Ooooh, I want one of those iPanopticons sooooo bad

Geek and Hype iPod touch shared CC by pickupjojo

How illuminating… every time Chairman Steve does one of his high-gloss sales-pitches, my Twitter and RSS feeds are overrun by panting consumption lust, usually from people who make their livings as some form of ‘technology expert’… I suppose it’s too much to expect critical detachment or even a modicum of dignity, that gear is so shiny… And really, what says “Think Different” more eloquently than a social network that is built around an online store?

If you are interested in what conspicuous consumers will be drooling over in the years to come, check out the new hotness they are getting ready to patent:

This patent application does nothing short of providing a roadmap for how Apple can — and presumably will — spy on its customers and control the way its customers use Apple products.

…Here’s a sample of the kinds of information Apple plans to collect:

  • The system can take a picture of the user’s face, “without a flash, any noise, or any indication that a picture is being taken to prevent the current user from knowing he is being photographed”;
  • The system can record the user’s voice, whether or not a phone call is even being made;
  • The system can determine the user’s unique individual heartbeat “signature”;
  • To determine if the device has been hacked, the device can watch for “a sudden increase in memory usage of the electronic device”;
  • The user’s “Internet activity can be monitored or any communication packets that are served to the electronic device can be recorded”; and
  • The device can take a photograph of the surrounding location to determine where it is being used.

In other words, Apple will know who you are, where you are, and what you are doing and saying and even how fast your heart is beating. In some embodiments of Apple’s “invention,” this information “can be gathered every time the electronic device is turned on, unlocked, or used.” When an “unauthorized use” is detected, Apple can contact a “responsible party.” A “responsible party” may be the device’s owner, it may also be “proper authorities or the police.”

Apple does not explain what it will do with all of this collected information on its users, how long it will maintain this information, how it will use this information, or if it will share this information with other third parties. We know based on long experience that if Apple collects this information, law enforcement will come for it, and may even order Apple to turn it on for reasons other than simply returning a lost phone to its owner.

Stephen Downes, who somehow manages to outblog us all even when he is camping on a hurricane path, has a nifty take: “You know what would be nice? It would be if Apple succeeded in patenting spyware and then launched lawsuits to prevent anyone else from using spyware. Then all we would have to do to avoid spyware would be to avoid using Apple. That would be great.”

In any event, it will be exciting to watch Apple’s continuing war of innovation continue against Google, won’t it?

About Brian

I am a Strategist and Discoordinator with UBC's Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology. My main blogging space is Abject Learning, and I sporadically update a short bio with publications and presentations over there as well...
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