15 Replies Latest reply on Jan 12, 2012 10:16 AM by kes601

    Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

      Barnes & Noble keeps pushing the party line that locking out 3rd party apps not approved through the Barnes & Noble App Store is for "security concerns" because the safety of those apps cannot be validated by Barnes & Noble in any way.

       

      I know that there have been a number of threads here whining and unsupported and rambling complaints about the behaviors and actions taken by Barnes & Noble with respect to locking down the Nook Tablet, however I wish to present here instead a well formulated and supported argument why their presented argument for locking us out of loading unapproved 3rd party apps is morally wrong, and unjustifiable.

       

      The fundamental issue behind this argument is that users might be injured or harmed by these unapproved 3rd party apps, and as a safety precaution, Barnes and Noble is preventing them from unintentionally being loaded on to our tablets, as well as pushing an update that one cannot refuse but to accept that blocks such actions as well.

       

      However, in doing so, Barnes and Noble denies the agency of the user to make informed consensual choices. You have no choice in the matter of whether to install these "unacceptable" programs, because Barnes & Noble claims to know better than you, and they are only here to protect you. This is the behavior of parents in relation to their children, and early by husbands to their wives, and masters to their slaves.

       

      In some cases, this denial of agency is appropriate, as is the case when dealing with children. Children are immature, and unable to understand full consequences of their choice, and that is why they are not allowed to enter into contracts, or any other such activity that requires informed consent, such as most elective surgeries.

       

      However, the purchasers and users of the Nook Tablet are not children, and we are not incapable of forming informed consent with respect to security concerns. Especially those of us who are well experienced in computers and security matters are, if not better at evaluating security concerns, then just as capable of evaluating security concerns as Barnes & Noble is. Yet we are still treated just the same: as children, incapable of making our own self-determining choices.

       

      And this is the root of the objections to these security lockdowns that Barnes & Noble seems intent on enforcing. The motives ascribed to this action are not the actions of a manufacturer, or producer and customer, but rather that of a parent to a child. Denying our self-determinism and ability to make informed choices, under the auspice of "we're doing it for your own safety." I'm sorry, Barnes & Noble, but I, as a self-determining adult, capable of my own informed choices reject this argument, and your product. No matter how good your product could be, by limiting us so greatly, you are denying my human rights to dignity.

       

      Of course, the whole essay above is predicated on the argument that Barnes & Noble has taken their actions to "protect" us from our own poor choices. This of course, fails if you consider the more likely reason for Barnes & Noble taking this course of action, and that is: "we wish to lock you into our App Store and our content in order to increase our revenues and profits." This—unlike the argument suggested that we are incapable of making our own self-determing decisions—is not an immoral argument to make, but rather a perfectly reasonable business decision, even though it makes you look black-hearted and greedy. But certainly makes the most sense, after all, why would people overwhelmingly choose to pay $2.99 for Angry Birds on the Barnes & Noble App Store, when it is available free on the Android Market?

       

      It is then, no wonder that one would attempt to spin the 1.4.1 side-loading lockout as "for your own good" instead of "because of corporate greed". However, it seemingly only makes the matter worse, because rather than being driven by a black-hearted corporate greed, which all corporations are necessarily a slave to; you instead present yourself as an ennobled benevolent dictator that can overrule any choice of the users in how they wish to use their own device, because they have no agency of their own, and are therefore incapable of forming their own informed choices.

       

      Sic semper tyrranis. No matter how noble or benevolent, tyrrants must be opposed.

        • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

          CFoesch comments:

           

          > however I wish to present here instead a well formulated and supported argument... <

           

          Very eloquent (and verbose :smileywink:).  However, let me see if I can summarize more succinctly:

           

          "We are not children.  Let us do what we want."  Pretty close?  :smileyhappy:

           

          You go on to say B&N has made "a perfectly reasonable business decision, even though it makes you look black-hearted and greedy".  The first part sounds good, but the conclusion certainly has sinister implications.  

           

          Let me ask you a simple question.  I assume you are gainfully employed (have a job, and earn a living).  In which case I have to wonder why you are so "black-hearted and greedy" that you accept payment for your work?  Why do you not just contribute it freely, for the common good? 

           

          I'll respond to just one more:

           

          > why would people overwhelmingly choose to pay $2.99 for Angry Birds on the Barnes & Noble App Store, when it is available free on the Android Market? <

           

          Because AB is not available for free in the AM!  There are admob advertisements in the Market version that provide a revenue stream (aka, mucho dinero... see below), that aren't in the one for the Nook (or weren't... I have no idea how AB may be evolving, since I don't use it).  

           

           

          The key factor you're overlooking, and everyone seems to have this amazing ability to continue to overlook, no matter how many times it's pointed out to them, B&N does NOT set the price on Apps.  Their developers do.  So if anyone is "black-hearted and greedy", it is Rovio.  :smileysurprised:

           

          You specifically mentioned the Android Market, but take a look on the iPlatform.   The generic version there costs a buck (NOT free! OMG!!), which is certainly less than the 3 bucks on the Nooks.  But perhaps that may have been influenced by the fact that there are over 100M customers on that platfom, vs. (maybe) 5M or so on B&Ns?  Based on that ratio, perhaps they should have priced it at $20?

           

          But oops, that's not the HD version that's on the Nooks.  THAT one in iTunes is 5 bucks.  5 bucks!!?  What they heck are they thinking?  Why would anyone pay 5 bucks to play AB on their iPad, when they could get it for 3 bucks if they bought a Nook?  :smileyvery-happy:  :smileyvery-happy:

           

          But at least for 5 bucks you don't have to put up with the ads in the version on the Android Market.  Oh, wait!  Here's the latest review on the $5 AB for the iPad:

           

          > Getting greedy? by ghostcl 

           With the latest update, they introduced even more advertisements. Rovio really overdid it this time. Before, it was annoying, but now they are in your face all the time on the reload screen. <

           

          So maybe you do have a point about  "black-hearted and greedy" after all.  :smileyhappy:  Just not applying to B&N.  You may want to be careful when you go out to paint others with a wide brush, that you don't get some on yourself.

           

          - Mark

           

            • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

              Actually, I am not gainfully employed. I'm disabled.

               

              I also have no credit card, so even the free apps that sometimes show up on the B&N network, I can't get, because I have to have a credit card in order to complete the "purchase".

               

              Yes, using "black-hearted and greedy" has negative connotations. I think that corporations are a leeching parasite upon the working class. (A worker generates $X amount of profit for the company but only receives $X-Y amount of pay. Otherwise, the company wouldn't make money. By definition, no one can afford to pay their workers what the workers are actually worth. Unless they're a co-op owned by all the workers.)

               

              But then I'm a socialist.

               

              And people bitch about ads being all over, no they're not. They're hardly ever in my way actually. And if I want to pay for my apps through advertising revenue, then that should be my choice.

               

              And all the people justifying them for their "security concerns", my WHOLE ESSAY was about how that argument is an immoral one. It is NOT better for them to tell us that we are children incapable of making our own security decisions than it is for them to say that they're "just a corporation" (i.e. it's all about the benjamins).

               

              And "Why don't you give out all your work for free?" Actually, the vast majority of projects that I have worked on have been to projects that are GPL. I do walk the walk, not just talk the talk.

            • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

              However, the purchasers and users of the Nook Tablet are not children, and we are not incapable of forming informed consent with respect to security concerns

               

              I understand B&N's position, and while I will agree we're all adults, we're all capable of creating A LOT of bad press for B&N should our Nook get hit with a virus or other malware because it is opened to all software.

               

              Perhaps B&N will open the device to all software, but if they do they'll never get the Jenie back into the bottle.  For now they're comfortable knowing their users are *largely* protected from Malware.  I suspect that means more to them than a comparatively limited number of users complaining about the protection.

               

              And seriously: if you're so inclined to jailbreak/root your Nook, don't you want a more powerful device to start with?

                • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

                  Acutally, the NT is a pretty powerful device with a great display. The "open operating" system posts all seem devlove into the cost of Angry Birds.  The simple message is that we would like to believe B&N's reason for blocking side loading.  But, we doubt that is has anything to do with malware and the security message in the pop-up is disingenuous.  It just wouldn't sound as good if the pop up box said,  "We don't want you side loading apps because we make up our losses on this device by selling you stuff."

                    • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

                      I always have and always will be more than happy to pay a few bucks for the ad free versions of apps.. I am different I guess because I wont download anything that is ad supported and does not offer an ad free, PAID version..

                       

                      Free is never free.. Look at the reviews for the free versions of Angry Birds and Words With Friends.. Very intrusive ads that are everywhere and generally make these games unplayable and unenjoyable. Yet people are to cheap to pay a few bucks for games they enjoy.. Makes me laugh.... 

                      • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

                        Eustace2 wrote: "The simple message is that we would like to believe B&N's reason for blocking side loading. But, we doubt that is has anything to do with malware and the security message in the pop-up is disingenuous.  It just wouldn't sound as good if the pop up box said, 'We don't want you side loading apps because we make up our losses on this device by selling you stuff.'"

                        _________________

                         

                        Yes. There are two distinct issues here. The major issue (or cluster of issues) is the very poor selection in the B&N app store, the importance of sideloading for both app availability and user autonomy, and the resulting fiaco of the elimination of sideloading over many NT owners' objections. This topic has been addressed at length.

                         

                        The minor issue is the craven deceit we encounter in B&N's official explanation. "Disingenuous" is an apt characterization of the pop-up message. It reminds me of a supermarket chain in these parts that offers discounts on gasoline purchases (cents per gallon) based on total grocery purchases. If you fill your tank with multiple accumulated discounts on every gallon, the total saved can be substantial. Of course, some buyers might be tempted to fill up two cars in one transaction in order to extend the discount as far as possible, so signs at the pumps explicitly prohibit this practice. Fair enough, except that the reason given for the restriction is bogus: safety. Instead of just saying that the discount is limited to one vehicle per transaction, the store offers an elaborate rationalization about the supposed fire hazard created by "double pumping."

                         

                         

                      • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...
                        TnTexas

                        Pocono_Charlie: For now they're comfortable knowing their users are *largely* protected from Malware.

                         

                        Except they're not. Viruses can sometimes be picked up from just visiting websites. In fact, you're probably more likely to pick up something bad that way than from the Amazon or Android markets. And as far as I know, the Tablet doesn't have any kind (nor provide through their market any kind) of virus protection. That's one of the reasons why their claims of being concerned about security ring a bit hollow to me.

                          • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

                            As I said: *largely* protected.

                             

                            As the platform is secure, it will be far more difficult for the NT to be infected, but not impossible.

                             

                            If there is a vulnerability, they can state they've used due-dilligence to insulate their user base.  If they're open, there's no protection.

                             

                             

                            • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

                              TnTexas wrote:

                              Except they're not. Viruses can sometimes be picked up from just visiting websites.


                              Actually on the Android device the security issue of "picking" up a virus from a website is extremely minor. In order to get a virus from a website you generaly have to run an executable program which is no longer allowed. (i.e., your argument supports the choice B&N has made.)

                               

                              Most non-executable "virus" come in the form of things that affect specific applications like outlook or something in Microsoft Office. (Macros and such.)

                               

                              That is not to say it can't be done with a non-executable on an android... but it is much much more difficult.

                               

                              EDIT: Actually if you review known android malware almost all of them steal information. WIthout being able to run an load a program from a website the only way this would happen is if you went to a website and it mimicked something like your bank and you willingly input the data.

                               

                              Although if someone malicious could inject an app into the B&N appstore with something like a keylogger or a rootkit inside of it then they could do some damage. (Which is why we would have to hope that part of the process of getting the app onto the site is a review of the code to make sure there is nothing like that. Or at the minimum a scan of the apk file before allowing it on the site. Yet another possible reason that apps don't appear instantly on the B&N appstore site. Actually there were a few Halloween and Christmas things that got added on January 5th... I'm sure the developers of thos apps submitted them prior to those holidays and were miffed they didn't get added until then.)

                          • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...
                            patgolfneb
                            I have tended to support BN in my posts, at least partly because of the tone and biased reasoning I feel is frequently used. I acknowledge security is a secondary issue, but there is some validity to the claim. It may become a more valid issue in the future, it is difficult to tell. I am sure they hoped to deflect criticism of course and it is understandable if a valid but weak reason was offered; given the pummeling they are taking, much of which I feel is excessive, is that suprisng? The primary reasons are business related we all agree on that much I hope.
                              • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

                                Yes, I think we all agree that the real eason to block sideloading was economic.  Apparently, BN also believe is customers are not adult enough to understand that.

                                 

                                But I don't think the issue is "apps".  I think it is one particular app, the Kindle app.  There is a much bigger threat to BN's revenue stream from people being able to buy and read Kindle books on the NT than the apps issue.  Especially since BN doesn't have most of the apps people are sideloading any way so BN isn't really out $.

                              • Re: Why "security concerns" shouldn't be a valid reason to lock us out...

                                If B&N had a better selection of apps then I could really care less about blocking the sideloading.  I don't think there is any reason to block sideloading (other than from a business aspect), but I could accept it a whole lot more if there were more apps available.