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Japanese man arrested for selling jailbroken iPhones

He allegedly sold iPhones with a difference - pre-jailbroken and loaded with a popular game hacked to have handy powerups built in...

Would you jailbreak your iPhone if you could, and if it were easy to do?

Would you pay a bit extra for a second-hand device that had been jailbroken for you?

Jailbreaking is where you exploit bugs in Apple’s software to remove the restrictions imposed on your device by the operating system itself.

Jailbreaking liberates your iPhone from Apple’s “walled garden,” by which you are forced to shop at the App Store only.

That frees you up to run a whole range of apps that you can’t get via the official App Store, including apps with features that Apple won’t allow in the App Store at all.

Ironically, one example of a prohibited feature that requires a jailbroken iPhone is checking for a jailbroken iPhone.

That may sound like a pointless feature. If your phone isn’t jailbroken, why check if it is? The obvious answer, of course, is, “Why not?” If you’re a concerned user, or a sysadmin who’s serious about business security, you might want to keep an eye open for security anomalies – such as someone else sneakily jailbreaking your iPhone for nefarious reasons such as stealing data or installing malware.

Of course, jailbreaking also makes it much easier to install and use stolen, illegal or pirated content, including apps, music, videos and so on.

That doesn’t, ipso facto, make jailbreaking bad, which is why we’ve often voiced suggestions like this one:

[Although jailbreaking brings a security risk,] we nevertheless wish that Apple would come to the jailbreaking party, even though we’d continue to recommend that you avoid untrusted, off-market apps.

We suspect that Apple would benefit both the community and itself by offering an official route to jailbreaking – a route which could form the basis of independent invention and innovation in iDevice security by an interested minority.

For now, however, jailbreaking remains a controversial issue – especially, it seems, in Japan.

Reports from Toyama, a city in the central part of Japan, say that a 24-year-old man named Daisuke Ikeda was recently arrested for selling five pre-jailbroken iPhones online.

Apparently, the phones also included a hacked version of Monster Strike, an online game that’s popular in Japan.

The alternative version of the game supposedly gave players greater powers in the game than they’d have if they were using the official version.

Racking up gameplay points or accessing powerful characters without earning or paying for them is unlikely to earn you many friends amongst players who have built up prestige in the game the hard way…

…and, in Japan, it seems it can land you in trouble with the police too.

According to the Japan Times, Ikeda had sold 200 iPhones before his arrest, “raking in an estimated ¥5,000,000 [about $50k] in sales.”

(Of course, that wasn’t his profit: there’s no suggestion that the phones were unlawfully acquired, so you have to subtract Ikeda’s purchase price from his average selling price of $250 per phone.)

What’s not clear from this case is the attitude of the authorities in Japan to jailbreaking in general.

If you decide to jailbreak your own phone, purchased outright in locked-down form – for example to run ported Unix utilities that would otherwise be blocked, or to install additional security features that Apple doesn’t provide – is that OK?

Afterwards, can you sell it on, or do you have to restore it with locked-down Apple firmware first?

What if it was a model that Apple no longer supported, so there wasn’t any recent firmware to restore?

One thing is certain: trying to regulate jailbreaking raises as many questions as it answers.


I don’t really understand why he was arrested. What was the law?


Not sure. Something to do with intellectual property, I guess. (Jailbreaking itself was unlawful in the US until a few years ago, BTW; as far as I know it’s now OK, but it still depends on why you did it, AFAIK. )

That’s why we’re asking aloud…what if you jailbreak your own phone in Japan and never install anything dodgy and don’t sell it on with the jailnreak in place. Is that allowed?


My guess is that the trip to jail was not so much for hacking the IPhones as it was the
“hacked version of Monster Strike, an online game that’s popular in Japan”, Paul.


I don’t know why these game developers do not use jail break detection. For the android, last Pokemon Go update (0.39.0) did a unexpected implementation. It started to use ‘SafetyNet’ checks which used in Android Pay. Now no rooted phone can not play the game. Main reason to do is stopping bot players (and sell accounts with higher level in game).

I think ‘Monster Strike’ developers should use such option instead of stopping jail break.


Maybe he went to jail, because he didn’t have an allowance to resell the phones. Maybe there are laws, that forbid you to resell or he went to prison, because he didn’t pay taxes. There are so many reasons for him to go to jail, that aren’t mentioned here.


Except that he hasn’t “gone to jail” yet, and there is no suggestion that this relates to tax offences, or that this was specifically related to reselling the phones. The issue indeed seems to revolve around circumventing security protection (in the style of DMCA in the USA), and what that circumvention was all about.


Think I agree with the anonymous post. It’s your device. You’ve bought it. Jailbreak it if you want and void your warranty and that’s your risk. It’s yours. Do anything that you want with it as long as it’s not illegal.
I think that why you jailbreak and what you do with your device afterwards is a different debate. If you choose to do something illegal such as install pirated apps then that’s another issue and is applicable to whatever computing device you’re using. I really don’t think that perusing jailbreakers is the answer (and I realise that’s not the question you’re asking here). Smells a bit “nanny state” to me


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