Despite Apple having championed privacy and encryption, and having its most profitable year yet, the company is apparently not above censoring free speech on its Apple TV platform. The Chaos Computer Club claimed that Apple rejected the CCC's TV app that would allow viewers to stream the hacking conference because researchers have previously presented talks centered on hacking iOS.
Apple's fourth-generation Apple TV launched on October 26. For the first time, it included an app store, which – as of yet – reportedly only has a list of Apple TV-featured apps with no way to discover non-featured apps, or to browse categories or Top Charts.
Yet Apple said, "Just when you thought TV couldn't get any better. What iOS does for your iPhone and iPad, tvOS will do for your big screen. It also gives developers a whole new world to play in. We can't wait to see what they come up with."
They "can't wait" unless the app deals with a security conference and potentially hacking things…like iOS. Seven days after the CCC submitted its app, Apple rejected it. The CCC explained:
According to Apple, the app is in breach of developer terms and conditions because it enables access to content of which the company disapproves: Apple criticizes that the CCC's app allows watching publicly given talks, which among others deal with security holes in the widely used Bluetooth technology, or help "jailbreaking" Apple devices -- enabling the use of applications that have not been approved by Apple. The talks criticized by Apple are all available under the website media.ccc.de and can also be watched through the Apple TV YouTube app, which is not criticized by Apple.
In the past, CCC biometric hacking team members were quick to successfully bypass Apple's Touch ID authentication system; that likely didn't please Apple, but it wasn't cited as a reason for rejecting the CCC's streaming app, which was supposed to be like a Netflix version of the hacking conference.
Instead in its rejection, Apple cited a clause from its guidelines:
You will not, through use of the Apple Software, Apple-issued certificates, services or otherwise, create any Covered Product or other code or program that would disable, hack or otherwise interfere with the Security Solution, or any security, digital signing, digital rights management, verification or authentication mechanisms implemented in or by iOS, the Apple Software, or any services, or other Apple software or technology, or enable others to do so.
The ban is especially weird, as the CCC and The Register pointed out, because "the conference live streams are available on the official website and are broadcast on YouTube, all of which can be accessed through App Store apps like YouTube and browsers."
In the review process, Apple took offense at the following contents:Hardware Attacks: Hacking chips on the (very) cheap
The CCC has been hosting its annual Chaos Communication Congress since 1984, and there never fails to be some outstanding talks every year. You may have noticed the jailbreaking iOS presentation was one of talks that Apple listed as having offensive content.
If it's hacking in general – and not just iOS – then Apple would likely reject any app to stream any security conference. Yet it's sad to think Apple is afraid to embrace freedom of speech on its "innovative TV platform" by allowing the CCC – or other hacking conferences – to stream via specifically crafted apps other than YouTube.
The CCC's app project is open source and posted on GitHub.