What’s Up With Apple: No to Sideloading, Piracy at Apple TV+ and More

24/7 Wall St.
24/7 Wall St.
 2021-10-14 Among the early September rulings in the lawsuit Epic Games filed against Apple Inc. ( NASDAQ: AAPL) was one that left the door open for forcing Apple to allow people to download apps from non-Apple sources. Apple has consistently warned that allowing the practice (usually called sideloading) exposes its customers to scams and threatens people's privacy and the security of their data.

Now the company has posted a 30-page " threat analysis of sideloading " on its website. The report's basic claim is straightforward enough:

Supporting sideloading through direct downloads and third-party app stores would cripple the privacy and security protections that have made iPhone so secure, and expose users to serious security risks.

This is the second time in four months that Apple has posted a defense of its App Store. The first, published in June , came at the same time that CEO Tim Cook told a French interviewer that sideloading would "destroy the security of the iPhone and a lot of the privacy initiatives that we've built into the App Store."

Apple, however, conflates sideloading from a third-party app store (say, Epic Games) with a direct download from another person's website. There is a stricter definition, at least according to Microsoft: "Sideloading apps is when you install apps that aren't from an official source, such as the Microsoft store."

As The Register website notes, "By conflating the two scenarios, Apple implicitly denies the possibility that a third-party app store might offer better security and privacy than the App Store ."

While Apple TV+ may not be attracting carloads of new subscribers, it appears to be having some unwanted success in fueling the theft of movies and videos. MacRumors cited data from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment claiming that streaming piracy costs rights-holders as much as $71 billion annually .

Among the results of the MacRumors investigation is this:

[S]ome of Apple's most popular shows and movies have at least 2,000 active seeders on each major piracy site, going up to as many as approximately 125,000 seeders per title. Download trends broadly map to the popularity of Apple's various shows and movies, with the likes of "Ted Lasso," "The Morning Show," and "SEE" garnering the most downloads.

A "seeder" is a peer-to-peer file-sharing website that breaks down a (pirated) video into small pieces that can be downloaded much faster. BitTorrent is the usual example.

According to MacRumors, its investigation tracked domains and sites used to steal Apple TV+ content and discovered that, over the course of a week, none of the copyrighted content stolen from Apple TV+ or its partners was removed from the piracy site.

Finally, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on Wednesday sent notices to more than 700 companies reminding them that fake online reviews and "other deceptive endorsements" could be penalized as much as $43,792 per violation "if they use endorsements in ways that run counter to prior FTC administrative cases." The list of companies includes Alibaba, Alphabet, Amazon and Apple, just on the first page.

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