Publishers criticize Apple for ‘completely crazy’ News app email


Publishers are frustrated with Apple's hasty attempt to lock them in to the forthcoming News app's terms and conditions.
Photo: Apple

Apple’s iOS 9 News app hasn’t even seen the light of day yet, but publishers are already heavily discontent with the email Apple sent out to them regarding its terms and conditions. The email essentially tells publishers what they’re agreeing to by opting in to the News app and assumes they agree unless they explicitly state otherwise.

Even if publishers don’t like the terms and conditions Apple lays out, Apple is basically forcing their hands unless they later specify that they don’t agree. In that case, of course, they also don’t get to be a part of the News app. The terms and conditions themselves don’t entirely appear to be causing the uproar, but rather the odd presumption that all the publishers are automatically willing to participate even in total silence.

In an email sent to various publishers, Apple has detailed that if website’s don’t want their RSS feeds included in the News app they must reply ‘NO,’ rather opting into the service voluntarily.

“You’re going to consider me bound to terms you just declared to me in an email as long as I don’t respond? That’s completely crazy. You don’t even know if I received the email!” writes Mike Ash.

Graham Hann, head of technology, media and communications at the Taylor Wessing law firm, told BBC the terms and conditions themselves are about on par with every other contract within the industry, except Apple is wrongfully making the automatic opt-in assumption.

“I don’t see how the notice could form a binding contract without a positive reply,” Hann stated.

This certainly isn’t the first time Apple is accused of playing hard ball. In fact, record labels are already dissatisfied with the forthcoming Apple Music service and its three-month free trial, which won’t give the labels so much as a dime in royalties.

Today’s story is also similar to when Apple increased song previews on iTunes from 30 seconds to 90 seconds. It basically told publishers if they didn’t like it, they could take their music off iTunes at the expense of visibility.

  • wr

    No court of law will uphold this. Contract Law 101.

  • Aannddyy

    Isn’t this is simply a news browser, like a curated Safari or Google Chrome. Does Apple Safari or any browser for that matter need permission from a website’s owner/creator to display public websites in their browser?

  • Sleaka J

    This would be like McDonalds building a drive-thru and then complaining to the media when it gets used.

  • TJ

    Did everyone have to opt-in to Google sucking all news articles into it’s search engine? What’s really the difference between the two?

  • Did anyone bitch about the Google News app? Or the one from HTC?

  • ChrisC

    I don’t see the issue here, Apple will scrape RSS feeds just like everyone else…. Typical over reaction.

  • BoltmanLives

    Apple is trying to control news so you don’t hear of their devestating security flaws

    • oriorda

      Baloney. Apple knows what you clearly don’t: nobody can stop the torrent of misinformation put out by competitors who fail miserably to compete where it matters: in the wallet of the customer

      • BoltmanLives

        A torrent of misinformation that they have lax security practices and bilk the music industry? That is true.

        Apple is going down! boo hoo

      • oriorda

        Your bile is showing.

        Apple’s future will be determined one wallet at a time, and not by myopic, unsubstantiated calumnies uttered by sadsack Cassandras. So long as it delivers great products surrounded by great customer care, it will continue to be the benchmark company. Apple’s customers are not fools: they figure out the best deal for themselves and lay their own hard-earned cash down on the counter.

      • BoltmanLives

        Apple has no control of the future, never did. others are leapfrogging Apple. First off its GOT TO shore up the security on its OS as people get hacked since 86% of App Store apps are vulnerable it will be DEVESTATING to the trust people have in Apple. People need to get angry that Apple thought so little as to not come out with a solution yet. Sell Apple products and teach companies a lesson there is more than just abusive profits to be made.

      • oriorda

        Even more bile. And even more misunderstanding. Believing as you do that Apple is all bad, you cannot see the weakness in your own arguments.

        Of course Apple cannot control the future. It doesn’t try to. Individual users determine the future. They either buy your product or they don’t. Apple attempts to make the very best products it can so you will choose them. It’s a free market. People decide.

        Security is not a product. It is a process. The best security comes from layers of protection within a thoughtfully designed architecture, combined with a well managed response system to deal with the inevitable attempts at intrusions. Apple stands head and shoulders above all mobile device manufacturers in these regards. Remember: 99.9% of all mobile malware is found on Android platforms because its basic architecture is weak, compared to Apple iOS where the architecture is strong. There has never been a single recorded example of a successful malware attack on an iOS device and the reason for this is that the architecture is well designed.

        The exposure you have seized on, based on badly reported gossip blogs you are so quick to quote without doing your own due diligence, is based on a successful social engineering trick that requires the unwary user to give his credentials to the attacker. It is not an example of bad architecture or poor coding, but an unforeseen circumstance where an unwary user might be tricked (there is no evidence anyone has been tricked to date, but it could happen). You will never, ever succeed in figuring out every single way a determined trickster will try to separate you from your money. You do the best you can to figure it all out, and rely on the layers of your solution to make it too hard for them to persevere, and then, if and when they do find a crack, you have to be able to respond. If your architecture is strong your solution will be obvious, but if your product is built on a security foundation full of holes, no sooner do you patch up one than another appears (Patch Tuesday from Microsoft is a perfect example of this process)

        It has to be fixed of course, that is part of the process, but it is in way comparable to the fundamental security exposures found all over Android, one example of which is an exploit that exposes over 600 million Samsung devices – most of which will never be fixed because of the way Android is installed on these devices.

      • BoltmanLives

        No the Samsung flaw was very specific and unlikely to affect anyone. The Apple flaw affects everyone that has any Apple device an over 86% od appstore apps that need rewrites

      • oriorda

        Complete and utter rubbish. No iOS app will require a rewrite. That is Zero as in None. You just make up this stuff.

        As I said, the exposure relies on a social engineering trick to try to fool a user into releasing their credentials. It’s got nothing at all to do with apps. It’s not good, and it needs to be fixed, but users need to take basic precautions not to fall for these tricks, because there is no way you will ever stop creepy folks thinking up ways to fool the unwary. If you put roadblocks up at every possible entry point and make users jump through hoops before they can do anything at all, you will just turn off users. Nobody wants that. But sometimes one more roadblock is necessary, such as in this case. It will make the overall system a tad less convenient, but that’s how it has to be.

        The 600 million Samsung users are indeed all at risk because of malware. It’s just a case of waiting till it’s your turn to get hit. And there’s NOTHING most of them can do about it because most older Samsung devices will never be updated. How’s THAT for a security system?

        I won’t be responding further as my troll-radar has been activated.

  • HowmaNoid

    Lots of EULA’s of services we use assume an opt-in by visiting a web page or accessing some content. This doesn’t seem to different.

  • CrazedLeper

    Many of these publishers aren’t above such tactics, themselves.

  • Efthymis

    I had the time to read through the blog post that Mr. Mike Ash wrote on his site. So, um, he (among others) is/are complaining because a company informed them that they (Apple) will use the RSS feed from said sites, display it in this app, and they (site owners) can opt-out at will.
    So, he doesn’t want the extra traffic, he doesn’t want his stories automagically displayed with rich-typography-blah-blah, and he complains with the opt-out method. Funny thing: most sites I visit display a bar that say if I stay there, I agree with their practices. (Yes, it’s totally different, I know). All I am saying is: why the fuss?
    Do these guys complain for the indexing by search engines? Do they complain when their RSS is styled by other apps like say “Mr. Reader” or especially by any freemium RSS-Reader that injects ads in-between articles from the RSS feed? Those apps already DO show ads without paying the original creator. Why is only Apple guilty?

    • oriorda

      Like I said elsewhere, it’s his 15 minutes of fame. Prediction: once this blows over the only people who will ever hear of this guy again are his family and the vanishingly small number of subscribers he managed to scrape together before he hit on this publicity stunt.

  • oriorda

    You’re just adding to the 15 minutes of fame the previously unknown Mike Ash earned by raising this non-issue in the first place. The guy is turning down the chance for his voice to be heard by hundreds of millions of Apple users? He’s nuts.

    In today’s nanny state all public companies are forced by their own lawyers and those of the insurance companies they are obliged to retain, to write pages of legalese mumbo jumbo ‘binding’ their customers to sacrifice their first- born in the event of any problem arising, but nobody pays any attention to them. Except unknowns like Mike what’s-his-name seeking his 15 minutes.