Well, this is refreshing. While Richard Stallman is a staunch critic of anything closed and non-Free, his ire seems mostly directed towards DRM and Microsoft. However, a lesser known fact is that he often talks about Apple’s Mac OS X too in his speeches. During those speeches, he repeatedly claimed Mac OS X contained a backdoor which allowed Apple to forcibly impose software changes upon users. Stallman has now posted a retraction for those claims.
During speeches, Stallman often made the claim that Mac OS X contained a backdoor – similar to Windows, he says – which allowed Apple to forcible and secretly make changes to Mac OS X and its software. He now states that this assumption was wrong, and he apologizes for it.
“We have no way to verify that there is no backdoor in Mac OS X that could install changes without permission, but that is no basis to claim there is one,” Stallman writes on the FSF website, “I apologize for repeating a criticism of Mac OS which I cannot substantiate and must presume is false.”
Stallman based his claims on information he heard from the Mac community. “I heard this in the Mac community, but there is no published information that confirms it, and I now believe that I was misinformed,” he writes, “There is no evidence that Apple has installed software changes without the user’s permission.”
Stallman does, however, reiterate that Mac OS X and Apple are “unethical”, and points to the various times when users were forced to install iTunes updates which introduced new DRM features, breaking, for instance, PyMusique (used to gain access to the iTunes Music Store on Linux). He also details the case where a QuickTime update introduced a new DRM ‘feature’.
“So I don’t withdraw my condemnation of Mac OS. But I do withdraw the claim that it has a known backdoor,” Stallman added.
It’s certainly reassuring to see that his outright accusations have been downgraded to just routine FUD.