Some topics for discussion
1. Filesharing: is it stealing? If it is not, then what is it? If it is, why do people do it who would never steal anyone's physical possession?
Legally speaking, filesharing is copyright infringment. A few special cases:
2. The Apple App Store
To run an app on an iPhone, it pretty much has to be in the Apple App Store. Apple's stated reason for this is security, and they have indeed been extremely successful at keeping malware and spyware off of iPhones. But they charge 30% of an app's fees (special rules apply to continuing subscriptions, like Spotify, and no fee is charged to free apps that sell non-app merchandise, like Amazon).
Game vendor Epic, maker of Fortnite, got itself kicked off the App Store for changing their rules on in-app purchases. They sued Apple for antitrust violations; the trial was last summer and we're now waiting for the verdict from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.
What do you think?
On August 26, Apple proposed one change to their policies: app makers will now be allowed to tell customers that some content is available outside of Apple's App Store. For example, Epic Games could make a generic Fortnite engine, and sell the modules for new games on Amazon. Spotify could tell customers they would pay less by signing up on spotify.com.
And there has been weird collateral fallout: Apple ordered Wordpress, a free app, to create non-free tiers so Apple could get 30% of something. Then Apple backed off. Apple claimed Wordpress had agreed to make changes, but that seems false: www.theverge.com/2020/8/22/21397424/apple-wordpress-apology-iap-free-ios-app.
Also, the CEO of Epic Games had apparently asked weeks ago for a break from the 30% rule. Apple said no, setting the stage for the showdown. See also nytimes.com/2020/08/25/technology/fortnite-creator-tim-sweeney-apple-google.html.
3. Apple has recently proposed scanning iPhone photos that are uploaded to iCloud for child pornography. Specifically, they will compare a special hash of the photo with hashes of a database of known child pornography from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
4. Last year, some schools did weird things with Covid. Albion College (Michigan) made students install a real-time GPS tracker that was very poorly secured. See twitter.com/doctorow/status/1296248163653660672. Students who left campus for any reason could be expelled. Oklahoma State used their Wi-Fi system to track each students' use of each access point. They have cameras too, and card swipes (nbcnews.com/news/us-news/oklahoma-state-university-students-steps-are-tracked-stop-coronavirus-n1237525).
(Loyola's own Health App has this proviso in its terms of service:
THE LICENSED APPLICATION AND ANY SERVICES PERFORMED OR PROVIDED BY THE LICENSED APPLICATION ("SERVICES") ARE PROVIDED "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE", WITHALL FAULTS AND WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, AND LICENSOR AND APPLICATION PROVIDER HEREBY DISCLAIM ALL WARRANTIES AND CONDITIONS WITH RESPECT TO THELICENSED APPLICATION AND ANY SERVICES, EITHER EXPRESS, IMPLIED OR STATUTORY, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES AND/OR CONDITIONS OFMERCHANTABILITY, OF SATISFACTORY QUALITY, OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OF ACCURACY, OF QUIET ENJOYMENT, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT OF THIRD PARTY RIGHTS.
This would suggest that there is no guarantee of privacy.)
Do you have any rights in a pandemic? How do these approaches compare with the Apple/Google model, in which your app would record other phones that came within six feet, and log them only on the phone, and periodically you could check to see if any of those people came down with Covid19 (though you wouldn't get their names).
Overview of some of the issues we will discuss this semester: