Petition urges Apple not to release technology for jamming phone cameras

Apple got a patent for infrared technology for remotely disabling phone cameras

Over 11,000 people have signed a petition asking Apple not to deploy technology that would allow third parties like the police to use it to disable cameras on user phones under certain circumstances.

Apple got a patent for this infrared technology in June and bagging a patent does not necessarily mean that the company is going to use the technology in its new devices.

But there is considerable anxiety that the technology that appears designed to prevent people from recording copyrighted and prohibited material could also be used by the police to remotely disable cameras that could be recording misconduct by law enforcement.

"The release of this technology would have huge implications, including the censoring of political dissidents, activists, and citizens who are recording police brutality," according to the petition.

Phone cameras have recorded a number of alleged infractions by the authorities, including the fatal shooting by the police of Philando Castile in Minnesota recently, which was live-streamed by his girlfriend on Facebook.

“In some embodiments, infrared data can be received and an electronic device can modify a device operation based on the infrared data. For example, an electronic device can disable a function of the device based on received infrared data. In some embodiments, a transmitter can be located in areas where capturing pictures and videos is prohibited (e.g., a concert or a classified facility) and the transmitters can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands temporarily disabling recording functions,” according to the Apple patent.

U.S. patent no. 9,380,225, titled “Systems and methods for receiving infrared data with a camera designed to detect images based on visible light,” was awarded to Apple on June 28 by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.

Civil liberties groups like the American Civil Liberties Union are critical of the implications of the deployment of the technology. “While the technology is being promoted as a tool to prevent the filming of copyrighted material, we think it has the potential to undermine efforts to hold law enforcement accountable,” wrote Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties policy director for the ACLU of California, in a blog post this month.

“With law enforcement's recent focus on circumventing user protections in Apple products, it would be prudent for Apple and any other companies to strongly consider the civil rights impact before moving forward with this technology,” Ozer added, referring to recent court disputes where the company was asked by the government to provide assistance in accessing data on certain locked iPhones.

Apple could not be immediately reached for comment on the petition, which is aiming at 12,000 signatures.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?