Apple to Block Phone Features at ‘Sensitive Events’

Almost everyone has a cell phone these days and more and more people carry a smartphone of some type, including the increasingly popular Apple i-Phone. You can do so many things with your phone, it feels like a new found form of freedom never before experienced, right? Well, don’t hold your breath. It seems that Apple has just patented a new piece of technology which would allow certain phone features to be blocked at what they term ‘sensitive events.’ What are these events?

For now, Apple Inc. says the feature is largely being implemented for use during rock concerts, cinemas, theaters and similar venues, though admits “covert police or government operations may require complete ‘blackout’ conditions.” What? I’m sorry, did they just say police or government operations? Yes. They did. It seems that it is far too easy for someone to video record police brutality, protesting events and the like that now the government has found a way to see that these things are not able to be documented.

Apple Inc. continues: “Additionally, the wireless transmission of sensitive information to a remote source is one example of a threat to security. This sensitive information could be anything from classified government information to questions or answers to an examination administered in an academic setting.” It sounds like a restriction to the freedom of speech to me.

Apple has the means, with this patent, to transmit an encoded signal to all participating wireless devices to dis enable certain video and recording features.  Though Apple has created the technology, it would not be their decision to ‘turn on’ the disabling signal – no, that would be up to certain businesses, government agencies, network agencies, police and the like.  The patent explains:

As wireless devices such as cellular telephones, pagers, personal media devices and smartphones become ubiquitous, more and more people are carrying these devices in various social and professional settings. The result is that these wireless devices can often annoy, frustrate, and even threaten people in sensitive venues.

So far the patent has listed the following ‘sensitive’ events as being vulnerable to the blocking feature: presentation of movies, religious ceremonies, weddings, funerals, academic lectures, and test-taking environments.  So, don’t plan on taping your cousins wedding with your i-Phone anymore.  It’s potentially too dangerous to the bride for such information to be available to the general public.  And forget the last words spoken at your grandfather’s funeral, as they could be a breach to public safety.  Your son’s bar mitzvah, your granddaughter’s baptism, the time your husband first speaks to his college peers, all too sensitive as well.

Apple has already taken steps toward your i-phone being disabled at determined ‘sensitive events’ with their new blocking feature.  These events are not publicly determined, but privately and governmentally determined.  Is this another infringement on personal rights?  Is this more evidence of an impending ‘police state’ -which some would say we are already experiencing?  Will this feature take freedoms out of the hands of the citizens to be able to report illegal activity?  How does this make you feel about your i-Phone?  Will other smartphone companies follow suit?


Written by: Stasia Bliss

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