At first Apple users were astounded to learn about Apple’s most recent questionable patent, which would imbibe iPhones with the ability to read infrared signals and disable said iPhone’s recording devices within the signal’s vicinity. The idea was that this technology would prevent recording devices from functioning at events like museums, film premiers and concerts, where camera usage would either be illegal or distracting to those in the area. You can read all about the patent, how it works, and its intended uses here.
Naturally there was some public outrage over the concept. The prospective inability to record your favorite artists live was a big issue with younger Apple users, while conversely many others praised the idea as a way to keep audiences present and in the moment at shows, the way many believe the artists intend their shows to be experienced.
However, new and much more serious issues need to be considered if the patented technology is to be implemented, and a Care2 petition has been circulating around the internet in an effort to stop Apple from going through with the new technology. The ramifications of creating technology that can shut down recording devices through infrared lighting leads to many darker circumstances than just not being able to record your favorite set at Lollapalooza.
“Imagine: you’re walking down the street when you see police officers slamming a woman to the ground. They’re exhibiting a shocking use of force — one officer pushes her face into the ground. Another sticks his knee into her back. You become worried. You pull out your phone to record the incident — only to have your camera mysteriously shut off.” The petition goes on to point out “The release of this technology would have huge implications, including the censoring of political dissidents, activists, and citizens who are recording police brutality.”
The technology plays on how iPhones are able to receive light through their cameras. Currently, the iPhone camera is only able to register visual light, but this update would allow the camera to sense infrared light as well. This means potentially shutting down an iPhone camera could be as simple as emitting infrared light near it. It is easy to see how this technology could be taken advantage of.
In the past Apple has taken strong stances regarding standing up to law enforcement, so it would be strange to see Apple implement technology that would hinder the public’s right to record police activity and thereby protect themselves and other. The technology has simply been patented, not implemented, yet. If you’d like to voice your opinion on this potential tech, you can access the petition below.