Apple eyes kill switch for jailbroken iPhones
...for your own good
Apple has applied for a patent covering an elaborate series of measures to automatically protect iPhone owners from thieves and other unauthorized users. But please withhold the applause.
The patent, titled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,” would also protect Apple against jailbreaks and other unauthorized hacks to the device, which were recently excepted from copyright enforcement.
The application, which was filed in February and published Thursday, specifically describes the identification of “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card” so that measures can be taken to counter the user. Possible responses include surreptitiously activating the iPhone's camera, geotagging the image and uploading it to a server and transmitting sensitive data to a server and then wiping it from the device.
Rest assured that this jailbreaking identification, the application would have us believe, is simply a means of protecting owners from unauthorized users.
“Access to sensitive information such as credit card information, social security numbers, banking information, home addresses, or any other delicate information can be prohibited,” the application states. “In some embodiments, the sensitive information can be erased from the electronic device. For example, the sensitive information can be erased directly after an unauthorized user is detected.”
But elsewhere, the patent betrays ulterior motives that are considerably more self serving.
“An activity that can detect an unauthorized user can be any action that may indicate the electronic device is being tampered with by being, for example, hacked, jailbroken, or unlocked,” the patent continues. “For example, a sudden increase in memory usage of the electronic device can indicate that a hacking program is being run and that an unauthorized user may be using the electronic device.
“'Jailbreaking' of an electronic device can generally refer to tampering with the device to allow a user to gain access to digital resources that are normally hidden and protected from users. 'Unlocking' of a cellular phone can generally refer to removing a restriction that 'locks' a cellular phone so it may only be used in specific countries or with specific network providers. Thus, in some embodiments, an unauthorized user can be detected if it is determined that the electronic device is being jailbroken or unlocked.”
The application describes plenty of bells and whistles. They include voice-printing of the owner to detect unauthorized users (what could possibly go wrong with that?), activating the accelerometer to detect if thieves are in transit – even a “heartbeat sensor.”
Ignoring the possibility that a false positive in Apple's proposed theft protection might activate the spy cam while the user is in the bath, or in the middle of some other intimate moment, this technology seems Orwellian for another reason: It gives Steve jobs and Co. the means to retaliate when iPhones aren't being used in ways Cupertino doesn't expressly permit.
But remember, it's for your own good. ®
Why bother with Apple?
Skeletor is such a control freak and treats his customers like total fucking idiots. Just another reason I will never give Apple another cent of my money.
Time for that tired old twat to retire.
I tell you what, Jobs, how about you let me decide whether the phone has been stolen? How about by, say, providing a number to ring so I can get the IMEI locked out - LIKE EVERY OTHER PHONE IN THE UNIVERSE?
The worst part is, there's a hell of a lot of people who are either completely ignorant or downright apathetic about the consequences of these ever more ubiquitous computing devices being less and less under the control of their supposed "owners". The ignorant can at least be educated, but there's not much you can do about "I just don't give a shit" or worse, "I completely agree with Apple!"
Problem is, when the kill switches start being flipped, it's everyone else who gets caught up in it and not just the numpties. Well, enjoy your pretty brick. It was fun while it lasted.
Android for me
I have been mulling over whether to buy the rather lovely looking iPhone 4 to replace my iPhone 3G for some time. I was already leaning towards the idea of Android because of the excessive control Apple exerts over the apps.
This really takes the biscuit though. This is genuinely unnerving.
My mind is made up, it's an HTC Ace for me. Bye bye Apple.
Why don't Apple just go the whole hog and insist that their phones (suitably reduced in size) are implanted subdermally and fitted with a small remotely triggered explosive device so that any tampering with their intellectual property/business model can be firmly dealt with in a way that sets an example to others? A future development might be to connect it to the brain to better monitor if any users have thoughts that may be inappropriate for users of Apple technologies, and administer an instant product destruct - a good perusal of the magnificent breasts displayed by the girl sitting opposite on the tube would be an obvious candidate, as would less than charitable thoughts about Apple's increasingly megalomaniac leanings.
I by and large love Apple's computers and OS, having used nothing else for over twenty years, but I am really, really beginning to detest the direction the company has been taking for the last few years and their increasingly 'control freak' mentality. The iPad merely looked like a "so-so if you like that sort of thing" idea until Murdoch started drooling over it. When your snoop-friendly closed system OS starts giving a bigger boner to media moguls with a dubious rep than it does to experienced users, you're heading for the territory usually occupied by Phorm, Facebook and their ethically challenged ilk. Thanks, but errm, fuck off.
This can't be legal, surely? Remotely activating device hardware to gather information without the user's explicit consent? That's the boundaries of at least two Acts of UK Parliament being pushed right there, and heaven knows what legislation in other countries this could fall foul of. Given what Google are currently going through following the accidental mining of tiny snippets of mostly useless WiFi data, pulling sound and video and location data on demand is likely to land Apple in some very hot water if this gets implemented. EULAs don't trump laws.