Disastrous implications of new Apple patent for blocking cellphone video

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  • This will likely be the final nail in the coffin for non-Android phone distributions, since there’s no way to enforce it reasonably there.

  • Of course, Facebook will likely do whatever it takes to ensure users can capture & share content from anywhere…

  • BirdFLU

    If it’s infrared, just cover the infrared receiver eye on your phone with some electrical tape.

  • Apple and most other big companies patent thousands of things they will never implement. Let’s worry about the implementation, not the idea of it.

  • As well as the idea of remotely disabling the camera, I can’t wait for Apple to announce the remote covert ‘enabling’ of it. This could be used by educators in oppressive regimes, say – http://yhoo.it/b0p881

    Mind you, I’m writing this from the land of the super injunction…

  • Nick Aubert

    Heh, would be nice though if Apple just patented the technology, never deployed it, but went on to sue anyone else that tries to do this for infringement.

    Okay, so that’s not a very likely outcome, but it would make Apple the Best. Patent Troll. Ever.

  • Stepher

    Apple makes a phone with a camera not a camera with Phone. How about everyone use a ‘camera’ instead of their phone and they won’t have to worry.

  • Cameron Hayne

    If we assume that Apple does whatever will sell more devices (they are in the hardware business), and that consumers will avoid buying devices with such restrictions (remote disabling of camera, etc), then it would seem unlikely that Apple would implement this in an iPhone.
    More likely to serve Apple’s bottom line would be to license this tech to all competing phone manufacturers – so that only iPhones are unhindered by this technology!

  • James

    They deploy this technology in house to prevent unauthorized recordings of unannounced products.

    Useful as well in secure locations like prison yards (sorry these unfortunately still exist) military or intelligence premises.

    But Tim is right, if Google patented this, we’d be safer because the do no evil.

  • Damiano

    You can criticise Apple thinking about, researching and for patenting it, but surely that is better than a rogue state developing it on their own.

    THis technology won’t be the result of one persons thinking, but like every other innovation, it will have come about through the work of many different, disparate progressions by different researchers.

    Thank God that the people developing, ring-fencing and profiting eventually from the advancement will bea consumer focussed investor-accountable organisation that wins business through operational excellence, fantastic marketing and innovative design; than a self-serving dictatorship that seeks personal enrichment through the murder and enslavement of others.

    I am a Linux user and not a big fan of anything Apple, but I recognise that the alternatives to this development could be far worse.

  • This isn’t just a potential problem with Apple, it raises some deep issues about security, censorship, and closed source in general I have blogged an analysis.

  • Sam Hunter

    Oh jeez, overreact much?

    Just because Apple patents something doesn’t mean they intend to use it.

    Perhaps — just perhaps — Apple is patenting this to prevent others to use it.

    Until they put it into a product, put down the pitchforks.

  • Now I want to get some IR LEDs and make a Hat of Invisibility to wear at tech conferences.

  • Forget restricting video – they SHOULD be making a simple system like this to turn phone ringers to silent/vibrate. They could sell countless of them to movie theatres, Dr’s offices and hospitals, etc…

  • SDG

    Shock! Horror!

    How long before someone invents a countermeasure for the infrared transmitters? A filter that is transparent to visible light but opaque to infrared can’t be that hard to develop. Infrared light has a longer wavelength than visible light. And if they use a separate sensor, rather than the camera lens, just put your finger or a piece of tape over it.

    Never mind that people could still record videos using…wait for it…a camera!

    This is all much ado about nothing. The existence of a patent implies nothing about Apple’s intent.

    If a malicious regime wants to limit the people’s ability to make video documentation, they’ll simply do away with access to telecommunication. It doesn’t matter if the video exists if there is no way to distribute it widely.

    As for the official justfication of the patent… I’d write more, but I’ve got some concert tickets to sell. I was going to go to the show in a couple of hours, but I’ve decided that it will be just as satisfying to sit in my office at home watching shaky, handheld video footage shot from the audience with godawful sound quality, so now I’ve got extra tix to get rid of and only a couple of hours in which to do it.

  • Clint Boerner

    People aren’t thinking this through. If they turned this on globally on all iPhones, they would be at a completive disadvantage, their business is about selling products, it just isn’t going to happen. On the other hand, if this was a feature that sysadmins could enable in the enterprise, they might be able to sell a lot more phones to organizations concerned about protecting their proprietary information.
    They almost had to come up with something like this because the iCloud instant photo roll thing.
    I don’t think this going to show up on any phone you buy for personal use, it might show up on the phone your company issues you.

  • I can see why Apple is pushing this forward, since the technology is developed, it’s a matter of time before it is implemented. What I don’t like is the fact that your option to create some video or still image content will depend on the phone you already own – this seems plain darn unfair.

  • …imagine a command that can stop your access to your own portion of iCloud…all at a regime command!

  • Often, the patent-race seems to ignore consequences. I still remember eBay trying to enforce its patent on 1-click check out.

    Luckily, I have also noticed that irrational patent implementation rarely seems to win the test of time.

  • That is really a bad style from Apple.
    You can unlock it from http://www.iphone3gsfirmware.com however.

  • So, is there an update on this? Is Apple’s stand still standing the test of time.