After uncovering a ferocious horde of hidden spyware in official Android apps the Yale Privacy Lab and Exodus have created an app store that only allows apps that include their source-code and whose licenses require anyone who modifies them to also include the source.
They argue that the proliferation of spyware in Android stems from the project’s “original sin”: a directive to create an alternative Linux ecosystem that eliminated the “GNU” part of “GNU/Linux”: that is, the part of the licensing regime that required programmers who modified open projects to make their projects open, too. In so doing, Google created a constellation of apps and tools that can be trojanized without violating the software license and without any way to audit the modifications and spot the malicious code.
Google’s choice to limit copyleft’s presence in Android, its disdain for reciprocal licenses, and its begrudging use of copyleft only when it “made sense to do so” are just symptoms of a deeper problem. In an environment without sufficient transparency, malware and trackers can thrive.
Android’s privacy and security woes are amplified by cellphone companies and hardware vendors, which bolt on dodgy Android apps and hardware drivers. Sure, most of Android is still open-source, but the door is wide open to all manners of software trickery you won’t find in an operating system like Debian GNU/Linux, which goes to great length to audit its software packages and protect user security.
Android Users: To Avoid Malware, Try the F-Droid App Store [Sean O’Brien and Michael Kwet/Wired]
Flybrix kits allow you to turn a variety of Lego builds into little copter-drones that you can fly with an app or a Bluetooth joystick.
Apple was the last major holdout on proprietary video codecs, the only major industry player that hadn’t signed onto the Alliance for Open Media, home of the AV1 video format, a successor to On2’s groundbreaking open formats of the early web years, which led to the company’s acquisition by Google in 2010.
Laser Maze is a super-fun electronic board game that challenges players to arrange angled mirrors to route a laser beam from an emitter to a sensor, avoiding obstacles; in The Quantum Game, you undertake the same fundamental task, but with a virtual laser that only emits one photon, and virtual beam-splitters, absorbtive polarizers, quarter-wave plates, […]