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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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  • *Shivers* (Score:1, Interesting)

    by B33RM17 (1243330) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:26AM (#33313526)
    The level of control Apple wants to exert over its products has officially gotten scary. I wasn't really considering an iPhone as my next handset, but now it's entirely off the radar for me.

    The wall around their garden just got a little taller...
  • by Rijnzael (1294596) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:26AM (#33313532)
    Apple's image will certainly survive a scandal resulting from the actual implementation of something in the vein of the patent application. I mean, spying on the possessor of hardware you provide because you're somehow suspicious of them has worked out well in the past [boingboing.net].

    And they're tracking the GPS location of the 'suspicious user'? What, do they plan to send the police at them as soon as they detect jail breaking? Apple really wants to open this legal can of worms?
  • Re:FUD (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ViViDboarder (1473973) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:30AM (#33313614)
    Key points from TFA backing me up...
    • Claim 4 mentions jailbreaking but looks like they refer to it as a method of potential vulernability
    • Claim 10 refers to transfering sensitive user information to a remote site and then clearing the device of said information
    • Most glaring is claim 13 which refers to comparing heartbeats of the current using a heartbeat sensor and comparing it with a library of AUTHORIZED USERS

    This whole post is straight FUD.

  • by FudRucker (866063) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:41AM (#33313752)
    make it illegal for Apple & Microsoft and any other company to shutdown or "brick" a cellphone or game console any other product...

    now as far as any modded product if someone mods the hardware that is legal but they might void the warranty and apple or microsoft or whoever can block it from their online service but they can not legally sabotage the product when it trys to connect, (just block it from connecting) the owner of the modded hardware are free to use some other service (which jailbreaking and modding was intended to accomplish anyway)
  • by digitalchinky (650880) <dtchky@gmail.com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:43AM (#33313786)

    There is indeed a ton of prior art. There are quite a few Symbian applications that enable the 'owner' to do pretty much what the apple patent describes. Also my N900 has a fairly sophisticated script that sets up a reverse tunnel over 3G automatically if the SIM card is changed - once logged in I can do sudo rm -rf /* if I feel destructive - though in reality I'd grab a few good GPS fixes and then retrieve my property.

  • Patent "allows" ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Paradise Pete (33184) on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:50AM (#33313888) Journal

    The patent would allow the carrier or any other 'authorized' party to disable or restrict the functionality of the device.

    That makes it sound like the patent would be some sort of legal precedent establishing law. That makes no sense. Patents don't "allow" actions, they restrict them.

  • Legalities... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bert64 (520050) <bert@noSPam.slashdot.firenzee.com> on Friday August 20, 2010 @10:55AM (#33313946) Homepage

    This technology sounds quite useful if you assume "unauthorised use" to mean "use of the phone by someone who has stolen it"...

    After all, at least in the US jailbreaking is explicitly legal, so spying on a jailbreaker could in itself be an illegal act.

  • by ravenshrike (808508) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:10AM (#33314198)

    Which has been done with cars for how long? Still not novel.

  • by DJCouchyCouch (622482) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:16AM (#33314290)
    If I never bought anything on principle, I don't think I'd have anything.
  • UCITA and bricking (Score:2, Interesting)

    by valderost (668593) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:22AM (#33314366) Journal

    There are two states, Maryland and Virginia, under which remote disablement of software is allowed under UCITA, the Uniform Computer Information Transaction Act. Even then, bricking, or "self-help" as UCITA calls it, has some limitations, and it's not allowed in "mass market transactions" such as those involving non-negotiated licenses. The intent was to address shrink-wrap licenses, but a cell phone contract is similarly non-negotiable. This sounds like an "invention" that can't really be used in most of the US.

    UCITA and its self-help provisions have been an issue for a long time, and a lot has been written about it that's probably applicable here too.

  • by T Murphy (1054674) on Friday August 20, 2010 @11:53AM (#33314792) Journal
    Maybe there is a legitimate use for this patent, but I'm sure Apple would love to make people believe their iPhone will get disabled if they jailbreak it. I wouldn't be surprised if this patent is in part for scare tactics like this.
  • by Patch86 (1465427) on Friday August 20, 2010 @12:06PM (#33314990)

    So just to clarify. If I swap the sim card in my jailbroken phone while I'm on holiday, the good folks at Apple (or my carrier) will start taking photos, sound recordings and GPS records of me.

    Are they going to ask my permission first? If so, why not just wait until the user phones up and reports their phone stolen, rather than try to Sherlock Holmes their inputs to determine whether it has been stolen?

    I don't really want my carrier randomly taking pictures and sound recordings of me so that some analyst somewhere can have a gaze and see if I look like a robber. What if it takes pictures of it's child owner naked, or records a conversation which discusses bank details, or an employee discussing trade secrets or what not?

    Sounds very iffy to me.

  • by Pinky's Brain (1158667) on Friday August 20, 2010 @12:19PM (#33315146)

    They don't care about scaring people at the moment. Jailbreaking helps drive adoption. Apple uses the same trick as Microsoft did in the past, they modulate how easy/convenient it is to pirate/jailbreak their shit to maximize earnings. Once they decide it's no longer to their benefit they will really start doing their best and they won't need scare tactics ... it will simply become nearly impossible.

    Look at how long it takes for the PS3 to get cracked (still no mod chip available) with the glitching hardware flaw known ... if the glitching had proven impossible someone would have to had to reverse engineer the hardware at the transistor level to even come up with a possible attack, which at this point in time is getting too fucking hard to consider if you're not the NSA.

    Any hardware protection can be cracked, that doesn't mean it's always going to stay easy enough for it to happen. So whoever supports them because they can still have freedom on the device through jailbreaking, you should really reconsider ... if all the competitors disappear and Apple locks down their hardware we will all be fucked. They are a far more insidious and dangerous company to have as a monopolist than Microsoft ever was.

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