Oh noes, Apple has patented Big Brother

Facebook is blowing up with re-posts of several halfassed link-bait articles claiming that Apple has patented the ability to make your phone be unable to take pictures of cops.

I know it's too much work to double-click the patent number, select "Search", and actually read it, so here's the patent: 8,254,902: Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device. It's a patent on making the behavior of a device reactive to its environment, like forcing "silent mode" in a theatre or forcing "airplane mode" in a plane. Like all patents, it's written in an inverted cascade of clauses of the form, "And if you don't buy that, then also this. And if you don't buy that, then also this."

The part the link-baiters are freaking out about is a single sentence in the middle of the "background" part that says:

Covert police or government operations may require complete "blackout" conditions.

The context that nobody is quoting is that the surrounding paragraph makes it clear that they're talking about screen brightness.

Because someone else already has the patent on turning off cameras in "sensitive areas".

If you want to be angry about this, what you should be angry about is that patents on this shit were granted at all, not because of the creep of big brother but because it's fucking obvious behavior to implement and it is not an invention at all. The granting of patents like this makes the world objectively, measurably worse.

"Inventors" Michael Bell and Vitali Lovich should be ashamed of themselves for participating in their corporate overlords' abuse of the system in this way.

Previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously, previously.

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4 Responses:

  1. Shouldn't we be in favor of Apple patenting sketchy things like this? That decreases the likelihood of them ending up in non-Apple devices.

  2. billy says:

    what about this?

    "In another embodiment, a WiFi-based command is emitted within a certain facility (for example, a locker room, a government building, or the aforementioned movie theater). The command instructs the device to enter into a “lockdown” mode. Different facilities may enact different “lockdown” modes. For instance, a locker room facility may issue a command that prevents use of a cellular phone camera or laptop computer camera while in that area, thereby preventing surreptitious imaging of customers/users. Customers of such facilities may be willing to pay extra for the peace of mind associated with knowing that they are not being secretly photographed."

    • jwz says:

      As I said, that's covered in the earlier non-Apple patent. It's noise. They only throw shit like that in for the "also comprising" bait.