Proposed Apple patent seeks to lock up jailbroken iPhones

A jailbroken iPhone.

Apple wants to be able to lock down your jailbroken iPhone, even though it's legal for you to do so. (Photo Credit: CC BY-SA/Dylan Parker/Flickr)

Jailbreaking your iPhone is currently legal according to U.S. copyright officials, but that doesn’t mean that Apple is happy to sit back while users break free of their proprietary corporate mold and utilize the full potential of the handheld device. The Register reports that the technology giant has applied for a patent “covering an elaborate series of measures” that will “protect iPhone owners from thieves” and other non-authorized users. That patent, entitled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device,” would protect Apple liability in jailbreaking exploits, but it would also allegedly lock down a user’s phone.

Jailbroken iPhones can offer up data to prying eyes

Jailbreaking your iPhone makes your personal data available to identity thieves; that’s Apple’s story, and the company is sticking to it when it comes to the iPhone and jailbreaking. Apple’s proposed patent identifies numerous ways that unauthorized users could activate a jailbroken iPhone’s camera remotely, or track geotagging info and other private data. If the patent is approved, Apple would be able to tag and lock down any jailbroken iPhone it detects – and the company says it’s for the user’s own good.

Big Apple is watching you

If a user’s iPhone suddenly shows an increase in memory usage, The Register suggests, then Apple could identify the phone as having been jailbroken, as such activity is, in Apple’s estimation, consistent with hacking programs. Unlocking an iPhone (opening it up so that it can be used on cellular networks other than AT&T) would also be detectable if Apple’s patent is approved. The Register reports that Apple would also be able to detect “fraudulent use” by tapping into the iPhone’s accelerometer to determine whether the device is being carried by “thieves in transit.” Thus, the company believes that such new security measures as required voice-print identification is necessary, although technical experts and consumer rights groups are having a field day with that idea.

Who can active your iPhone camera with this patent?

Apple will be able to activate your iPhone camera if the patent is approved. Imagine yourself in a world where Steve Jobs can see what you’re doing at any time. Regardless of how much you like the style and convenience of Apple devices, do you want Apple to be able to turn on your camera at any time it chooses? Perhaps Steve Jobs won’t approve of what you’re doing.


The Register

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