"Traitorware:" EFF Warns About Apple Patent
The Electronic Frontier Foundation is saying that Apple wants to take spyware to the next level and create what the digital-rights advocacy group calls “traitorware:” technology that will inform Cupertino if a user is doing something the company doesn't like. The patent - which Michael covered last week
, describes technologies that would ostensibly help recover stolen iPhones, but could also be used for spying and as a remote "kill switch" for jailbroken and unlocked phones.
The patent, "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device
" describes how an iOS device could determine a user’s identity and whether or not the user is the registered owner. The capabilities of the device - recording the voice of a user, getting the real-time location of the device, taking a photo of the user and the surroundings, and biometric information like heart rate and something called the "vibration profile" all without the user’s knowledge.
EFF writer Julie Samuels writes in her blog post entitled "Steve Jobs is Watching You
" that Apple does not say in the application how it would use the information, how long it will keep it, or who it would share it with. Samuels raises warnings that if Apple collects the information, the likelihood is great that it will eventually be exposed either by law enforcement or by security breaches, either outcome being a grave risk to privacy. Furthermore, Samuels highlights (as Michael did in his article) the capability this would give Apple to remotely kill any jailbroken or unlocked device.
“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,” Samuels writes. Decrying it as “downright creepy and invasive,” Samuels calls on Apple to leave this technology on the shelf.