The Free Software Foundation’s list of reasons why you should avoid the iPhone have gotten plenty of coverage, which is of course the point of making such a list. I assume their tactics are the same as Greenpeace’s criticism of Apple’s environmental practices.

The goal is, of course, to get Apple to change its behavior, but I suspect the primary goal is also to educate consumers about the aims of the groups making the criticism. Apple is more effective than any other company in technology at garnering tons of press coverage, most of it positive. Activist groups target Apple with the knowledge that it’s the best way to advance what I expect is probably their primary goal — publicizing their cause.

The FSF wants consumers to think about their definition of free software, the risks of DRM, and how your software may expose your private information without your knowledge. Criticizing Apple on those grounds is clearly an effective way to get that message out in front of the public.

In the end, Greenpeace was successful in getting Apple to change its practices, but I suspect that was less important than the light they shined on the bad environmental practices that pervade the computer manufacturing industry. I also think it’s more important that more customers will be thinking about whether they will accept DRM and who is allowed to control what software they put on their phone than is any success the FSF might have in provoking change from Apple. That’s probably a good thing, because I think it was easier for Apple to reduce its packaging and do a better job of recycling old parts than it will be for them to give up some of the control they’re exercising over the iPhone platform.