EFF: Apple seeking to patent spyware
Posted Aug 27, 2010 0:51 UTC (Fri) by dskoll
In reply to: EFF: Apple seeking to patent spyware
Parent article: EFF: Apple seeking to patent spyware
Even if Apple did use it, they could use it for exactly the purposes described in the patent - to protect the device owner from theft and hacking.
"Theft" and "hacking" are two completely different things. Let's take theft first:
It's trivial to protect a phone from theft without resorting to spyware and incredible privacy-violating features. Step 1: Secure the phone physically. That's up to the owner. In other words, don't do dumb things like leaving the phone unattended.
Step 2: Have a secret lock code. The owner could lock the phone (or set it up so the phone locks automatically after a certain period of inactivity.) Unless you know the lock code, the phone is a brick. If implemented properly, it could prevent the phone from being usable by a thief. You could even allow the phone's owner to borrow another phone and enter some secret thing based on the lock code that tells him/her where the phone is (using its GPS). But at least activation of the "phone home" spyware would be controlled by the phone's owner, because anyone who doesn't know the secret lock code wouldn't be able to activate it.
Preventing against hacking is just Applespeak for maintaining complete control over the phone and preventing phone owners from doing what they want with it. It doesn't actually prevent against cracking since the bad guys will always find flaws in any sufficiently-complex piece of software, where "sufficiently complex" means over 100 lines of code.
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