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Apple Patents Remotely Disabling Jailbroken Phones 381

Posted by Soulskill
from the trying-to-put-the-break-in-jailbreak dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Apple yesterday applied for a patent to allow remotely disabling electronic devices when 'unauthorized usage' is detected. The patent application covers using the camera to take pictures of the unauthorized user and using GPS to determine location, and it involves ascertaining whether the phone has been hacked or jailbroken, using those as criteria for detecting 'suspicious behavior.' The patent would allow the carrier or any other 'authorized' party to disable or restrict the functionality of the device. Is this Apple's latest tool to thwart jailbreaking?"
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Apple Patents Remotely Disabling Jailbroken Phones

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  • FUD (Score:4, Informative)

    by ViViDboarder (1473973) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:25AM (#33313506)
    Reading this it becomes instantly apparent that "unauthorized use" is referring to users of stolen devices.

    Jailbreaking is already legal. What use would it be to take a photo of a jailbroken user?

    Theft is not legal. It would be VERY useful to have a photo of the user of a stolen device.
  • Re:FUD (Score:2, Informative)

    by glittermage (650813) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:35AM (#33313678)
    Jail breaking is considered legal under US law. However, nothing stops a carrier from determining that jail breaking violates your service agreement & then taking action against offending device.
  • by beelsebob (529313) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:35AM (#33313684)

    The headline is massively misleading, they've patented remotely disabling devices that the device has detected has been stolen, not jailbroken phones.

    Stupid slashdot is stupid^H^H^H^H^H filled with anti-apple trolls.

  • by sabre307 (451605) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:38AM (#33313724) Homepage

    Unfortunately the law also allows for a private contract between a company and an individual. Although there is no criminal implications to jailbreaking your phone, there may be implications from the TOS contract that you entered into when activating the phone through AT&T/Apple. Personally, I believe that a law should be passed that states you have the right to do whatever you see fit with something that you have purchased. Though I wholly support AT&T's right to restrict your access to their network or Apple's right to restrict your access to their App Store if you have modified your device from their specifications, I think it is ludicrous to think that they have a right to DESTROY something that you bought and paid for without compensation for it. Imagine if Ford had the right to disable your car just because you didn't use OEM spark plugs in it. What if Sony could disable my television because I plugged a Sharp DVD player into it? Someone needs to come in and lay a smack down on Apple and teach them that they are not the rulers of the world, but suppliers of a commodity. THIS is why I own an Android phone and REFUSE to purchase an Apple product. I used to support Apple and felt they got a bad rap on things, but since they've had some success with the iP* devices, they have become a monster that the free market needs to come in and slay. I NEVER thought I'd say this, but I miss the dominance of Microsoft! They are a behemoth and not very innovative, but I can't think of an instance where they have shown the anti-consumer mentality that Apple has over the last decade. WAKE UP PEOPLE!

  • Re:FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:39AM (#33313728) Homepage Journal

    Jailbreaking is a means of circumventing DRM. Ask the console modders how "legal" that is.

    What they could do is detect that the phone has been hacked, then "brick" it on the assumption that is stolen or being used to pirate material.

  • by sammy baby (14909) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:43AM (#33313800) Journal

    "Apple yesterday applied for patent to allow remotely disabling electronic devices when 'unauthorized usage' is detected. The patent application covers using the camera to take pictures of the unauthorized user and using GPS to determine location, and it involves ascertaining whether the phone has been hacked or jailbroken, using that as criteria for detecting 'suspicious behavior.' The patent would allow the carrier or any other 'authorized' party to disable or restrict the functionality of the device. Is this Apple's latest tool to thwart jailbreaking?"

    This is why we should be able to rate stories -1 Troll.

    Nothing in the linked article references jailbreaking. This looks way more like remote disabling for stolen phones - the same way that OnStar customers can call to say that their car has been stolen.

    The specific means of identifying whether or not the current user is the one who is supposed to be operating the device is discussed, and in that context:

    The method of [identifying a particular activity indicating a suspicious behavior], 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.

    So in other words, if someone steals your iPhone, they won't be able to thwart anti-theft devices by jailbreaking your phone or yanking the SIM.

  • by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:48AM (#33313876)
    Mod parent up. I read the patent (shock!) and he is right. http://www.patentvest.com/console/reports/docs/app/20100207721.html [patentvest.com] This whole post is a flamebait post.
  • Re:A new low (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 20, 2010 @09:51AM (#33313902)

    Using the camera to take pictures of the user ... assessing GPS to determine location ... remotely disabling device.

    Not the "user," the "thief." And it does so when the owner reports it stolen.

    Apple, you've finally lived down to my expectations (and then some).

    Which begs the question - what were your expectations? Remote execution of the thief? I think that would be illegal without a trial...

  • by Powder_Keg_Monkey (681792) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:02AM (#33314062)
    As I posted elsewhere on this forum, the patent specification does expressly mention jailbraking. Do a text search, and you will find it near the bottom of the specification where the patent application discusses potential uses for the claimed method.
  • Re:FUD (Score:3, Informative)

    by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:15AM (#33314268)

    Reading this it becomes instantly apparent that "unauthorized use" is referring to users of stolen devices.

    Yeah and it ties in nicely with the stories that turn up from time to time of people getting their stolen laptop back because they snapped a picture of the thief and did an ip lookup, or people getting iPhones back using the already existing GPS lookup called, appropriately enough "Find My iPhone" [apple.com]. Here's just one example [gizmodo.com] ("Stolen MacBook Victim Uses Screen Sharing and iSight to Bust Thieves") and there's already a product which does this for macs called Undercover [orbicule.com].
    Guess Apple likes the idea and wants it on the iPhone.

  • by Graff (532189) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:54AM (#33314810)

    make it illegal for Apple & Microsoft and any other company to shutdown or "brick" a cellphone or game console any other product...

    It already IS illegal to shutdown a product that you don't own. That is, unless the person has GIVEN you the right to shutdown the device. If you don't want someone else to have the ability to legally shut down your device then DON'T GIVE THEM THE RIGHT!

    If they won't sell you the device without giving away that right then simply don't buy the device.

    It's actually pretty straightforward.

  • by TheNumberless (650099) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:57AM (#33314874)

    Most stolen iPhones are jailbroken. It makes getting them on to a new contract easier. And a way to lock down or locate stolen phones that can work despite jailbreaking would be a very nice thing to have.

    If Apple actually tried to use a process like this for what the tinfoil hat brigade is imagining, I'm sure they'd lose the lawsuit.

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