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Apple attempts to patent kill switch that roots out unauthorized users, detects jailbreaks

Sean Hollister
08.21.10
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Just about every mobile operating system manufacturer can remotely delete apps from the smartphones they help provide, but if a recent patent application is any indication, Apple's looking to lock down the whole enchilada on future devices. The basic concept is as simple as the diagram above -- certain activities trigger the phone to think it's in the wrong hands -- but the particular activities and particular remedies Apple suggests extend to audiovisual spying (to detect if a user has a different face or voice than the owner), and complete remote shutdown. While the patent mostly sounds targeted at opt-in security software and would simply send you an alert or perform a remote wipe if your phone were stolen or hacked, jailbreaking and unlocking are also explicitly mentioned as the marks of an unauthorized user, and one line mentions that cellular carriers could shut down or cripple a device when such a user is detected. Sounds great for securing phones at retail, sure, but personally we'd rather devices don't determine our authority by monitoring our heartbeat (seriously, that's an option) and we're plenty happy with the existing Find My iPhone app.

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