Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Apple Patents Anti-Jailbreaking Technology

Apple has filed a patent request for what is termed “Systems and methods for identifying unauthorized users of an electronic device” that could either be a great addition for security conscious users and business users, or the most invasive invasion of user privacy in the history of consumer electronics.

The full patent is a little dry, but I‘ll emphasize the important part:
“3 . The method of claim 1, wherein determining further comprises: identifying a particular activity performed by the current user that indicates suspicious behaviour.

"4 . The method of claim 3, wherein the particular activity comprises one or more of hacking the electronic device, jailbreaking the electronic device, unlocking the electronic device, removing a SIM card from the electronic device, and moving at least a predetermined distance away from a synced device.”
Simply put: Apple has put in a patent that can determine when it’s being used wrongly, secretly take geotagged pictures with the built-in camera, and sending them to Apple discreetly.

It’s not clear yet if this is something that is able to be turned on or off by the user, or if it’s mandatory with the phone. If it’s the former, this is a nice security option. If it’s the latter, this is an unprecedented assault on a user’s rights to use their purchased hardware. Considering the fact that jailbreaking the phone – something recently made easier by a legal ruling – is specifically mentioned, I have to believe it's the latter. If this is the case, Apple's playing with fire, not only with the law, but with their customers.

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