Apple Patent Can Disable Your Smartphone · November 29, 2012

Posted: November 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

Prophetic Intelligence Briefings

Apple Patent Can Disable Your Smartphone · November 29, 2012

Apple has a new patent for technology than can disable certain or all features of your smartphone. Designed to “enforce policies” on wireless devices, it could prevent some “wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices.” It can also enforce a “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area.

This kind of technology has tens of thousands of applications such as in classrooms, customs and border control areas, theaters, shopping malls, police action or lockdown, and even airlines. It can disable cameras and block connections to mobile networks.

The technology is selective and “would send an encoded signal that can selectively shut down features of smartphones within range depending on what kind of policy needs to be enforced.” Only those devices used by authorities or those in control of the technology would be working.

Apple says that the new technology would be useful for “preventing copyright theft, such as in cinemas, or to prevent cameras from “being used in inappropriate places, like department store changing rooms. But in the patent application, Apple said that it could also be used for “covert police or government operations” [that] may require complete ‘blackout’ conditions.”

This is the sort of thing you would see in societies under dictatorships like China or Iran. But increasingly there is interest in western, so-called democratic countries, to use this and other technologies in similar ways.

During the “Arab Spring” revolutions and the Occupy protests in Western countries, smartphones were crucial tools for citizens in documenting police behavior and in recruiting support. With this technology police could limit the ability of citizens to photograph and upload pictures of excessive force or brutality of police or security forces and it could also limit the ability to communicate in other ways.

The technology has caused a furor with civil rights activists. Civil rights concerns include using the technology to limit freedom of speech or expression as well as other civil, constitutional, or human rights. Smartphones have greatly increased accountability of civil and military authorities. The new technology has the potential to reduce that answerability and undermine constitutional protections.

“Civil rights campaigners warn that those in authority most definitely can abuse this new technology.”

Note that new technology is both good and bad. The more high tech our world has become, the more it also undermines constitutional principles and protections. Eventually national constitutions that protect freedom of speech, the right of public assembly, and religious liberty will repudiate those protections at least partly through the use of technology.

Fears for civil liberties as Apple patents technology that could remotely disable protesters’ smartphones

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