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By Michael J. Smith on Tuesday January 18, 2011 09:07 PM

This is kinda old news, but I don't get out much, and I just found out about it.

Steve Jobs, the patron saint of hipsters, has filed for a very "creepy" patent, so described by my friends at the Electronic Frontier Foundation:

Steve Jobs Is Watching You: Apple Seeking to Patent Spyware

It looks like Apple, Inc., is exploring a new business opportunity: spyware and what we're calling "traitorware". [The company is] preparing to apply for a patent on technology that [provides] a roadmap for how Apple can — and presumably will — spy on its customers and control the way its customers use Apple products....

Essentially, Apple's patent provides for a device to investigate a user's identity [and] would allow Apple to record the voice of the device's user, take a photo of the device's user's current location or even detect and record the heartbeat of the device's user....

This patented device enables Apple to secretly collect, store and potentially use sensitive biometric information about you....

Here's a sample of the kinds of information Apple plans to collect:

  • The system can take a picture of the user's face, "without a flash, any noise, or any indication that a picture is being taken to prevent the current user from knowing he is being photographed";
  • The system can record the user's voice, whether or not a phone call is even being made;
  • The system can determine the user's unique individual heartbeat "signature";
  • The user's "Internet activity can be monitored or any communication packets that are served to the electronic device can be recorded"; and
  • The device can take a photograph of the surrounding location to determine where it is being used.
In other words, Apple will know who you are, where you are, and what you are doing and saying and even how fast your heart is beating. In some embodiments of Apple's "invention," this information "can be gathered every time the electronic device is turned on, unlocked, or used." When an "unauthorized use" is detected, Apple can contact a "responsible party." A "responsible party" may be the device's owner, it may also be "proper authorities or the police."

Apple does not explain what it will do with all of this collected information on its users, how long it will maintain this information, how it will use this information, or if it will share this information with other third parties. We know based on long experience that if Apple collects this information, law enforcement will come for it....

You thought all those surveillance cams on every streetcorner were bad? Well, Mister Skinny Jeans, you're gonna have a way-cool surveillance cam in your pocket.

This item is from, blush, August '10. I haven't found anything more recent. Have any other shoes dropped? Anybody know?

I note also that Jobs is taking another health-related leave from running Apple. I doubt that his absence will make the outfit any less evil, and I'm basically too kind-hearted to wish ill-health and early death on anybody. Even Bill Clinton.

But there is a side of me that hopes I see less of Jobs. A lot less.

Comments (27)

MJS, I would suggest this isn't just Apple. This is simply big business marketing making its logical advances. I almost guarantee that all the major players in the media pipelines are scrambling in the same direction. Apple simply thinks it has a lead, so tipped this to its already massively over-eager investors.

Corporate capitalism is utterly, inherently, thoroughly totalitarian. It WILL achieve this kind of tracking, if it can long enough survive its own mushrooming crises.

They're already doing "deep analytics" on real-time data harvested from set-top boxes and cell phones, matched with databases of bank records, etc. Next will be integration of facial recognition. Apple's just looking 20 years out.


You mean Jobs is now as evil as Bill Gates? Actually, these guys are dinosaurs. It's the Facebook, Google, I-phone founders who are hot now. It's Verizon I'm really scared of.


It's funny to hear myself saying this, but I now think Jobs may be even *more* evil than Gates, if only because he and his brand are more hip.

Gates now seems like a pathetic querulous whining dough-faced drudge, whose moment passed, unnoticed, twenty years ago.

Oh sure, Gates still owns the corporate desktop. But Jobs owns the attractive young person's hip pocket (no pun intended). A much bigger menace, don't you think?


Facebook, Verizon, Google -- yeah, of course, you should be scared of them too. No shortage of things and people to be rationally scared of, these days.

Please. Gates is right there, working on the same things. This spying is the future, for those paying attention to the "productive" aspect of domestic capitalism -- still a very large sector, despite all the left talk about finance.

Again, it's a system thing. Strike down a Jobs, and another will take its place...


Wow, I guess we can just start playing that retardedly iconic "1984" Apple commercial backwards now, for irony.

Getting back on the Linux box! I don't know what I'll play Angry Birds on, though :[


what exactly are you keen spirits afeared
"uncle "on a mortal level
and on a veneal level
the limited liability oafs
might find out about u ???

i doubt the recent events in tunis et al
could have been stopped by
deep observation "cyber intel "

what will our alders learn of us
they couldn't simply guess at now
yes acts of state might be more easily brought within the lewtter of the law ...so what
the state protects itself regardless of its legal proceedures
when apparent necessity arises
i doubt technology makes life more difficult in the long run
for the militant minority
what more could israel know about Nas
that couldn't be
adjusted to in time ??

yup new deeper methods might lead to a period of headless horsemanship by groups
that suddenly found a generation of its covert leaders lopped off by "state action"

i call that delay not doom

and for us left totalizers
in power
one can envision this
as the final materialization
of calvin's notion
of a living saints community eh ??

very 17th century boston

for that too Clio will
engineer a popular counter foil

organization ...counter organization

of course for the worshipers
pure spontaneous mass action
it might look daunting

they never want to build
collective countering systems
above the amoeba level


OP: I'm not worried about the state knowing what I'm doing, it's the fucking marketers knowing. I think that's MD's point. I already hate how Amazon pummels me with news of books like ones I've already ordered, or the very ones I've already ordered. How many Schubert symphonies can a guy own?

It's about privacy and individuality, the tiny space of authenticity that hasn't already been coopted, commercialized, spectacularized.


It seems like there's a bit of an age divide on these privacy issues. My pops is a bit of an Orwell guy and would never dream of putting his actual name and pictures up on Facebook. Younger people don't seem to care at all.

I know people who leave the GPS locator on their phone broadcasting so pretty much anyone can see where they are at any point in time. Some of my cousins, girls who are in high school in Vancouver, post up pictures of themselves smoking weed even though they have their parents, extended family and teachers on there. I kind of like it. As op remarked,

"what will our alders learn of us
they couldn't simply guess at now "

Obviously this case is a bit different, since there's no consent involved, but I'm not sure that even that would bother many young people.


" it's about privacy and individuality, the tiny space of authenticity that hasn't already been coopted, commercialized, spectacularized."

i guess my sense of privacy
such as it might have evolved
was pre empted
by the boarders' alcoves
of fay school age 10 to 14
as to individuality
i can't imagine a greater burden then too much of that
and i suspect i know of what i speak

i wish i could "get" the anti commerce gig
yes they get into everything everytime everywhere
but to me they're like fleas or mosquitos
its like laff tracked comedy
if iots pervasive enough you don't notice iot

its background

does a laff track do anything
other then tell you
its meant to be funny ???
notice it and it can drive you mad of course

example npr presentaion and news radio presentation
the volume pace intonation everything
is diffrent listen to each long enough and that difference disappears
but try to listen to the other
and you get what's being done to you
proplly more then in time and after habituation it will continue to do to you

Two words: electrical tape.


the point
--- i make ad nauseum--
never not worth repeating to an audience containing
lone wolf fantasts

it takes an organization
to effectively resist the state

a room of one's own may be enough
for some
hey you can disappear into your head
even while walking among us

i'd find that adequately justified...
if you stayed there ...

our recent tuscon direct actor
dwelled in his head
and like don quixote
interacted with outside reality
in ways that clearly privatized his experience
once governed by his inner spooks
who can judge him as we judge ourselves

or for another example
our voice from the hairy cell
calling itself jack crow

where and how might he knit together
his inner sanctum
with his outer sanctimony ??

if we knew the real day time job time
career time feller ...

all would come off quite differently eh ??

its senseless to add

these eel like strikes from concealment
make for an ugly communication niche

even if we have super hero
"second identities"
we oughta mesh inner and outer to a certain degree

Clapham Omnibus:

"I'm solipsist and I am surprised that the doctrine isn't a lot more popular," said the lady to Lord Russell.

Clapham Omnibus:

The man waited in line for three hours and arrived at the service counter where he asked for a pair of shoes. The clerk retrieved a box containing the shoes. Each shoe was 12 inches wide and 12 inches long. "Individuality is over-rated he said. Next?" Hat tip to Russell Baker.

Peter Ward:

It's not the intel per se that makes these technologies troubling (adding more raw intel is less efficient, if anything), it's that they have to potential to enable the deployment of new forms of harassment by the state against people the state has it in for. Al la the recent spate of dentitions/laptop cell phone seizures at entry points. And increase the chances of one being the victim of either mistaken identity or some form of identity fraud, or some other virtual crime (more than a background annoyance).

Also there's the dubious assumption biometric technologies are foolproof--far from it. How long before a SWAT team busts into a living room killing four people, including two kids, because an iPhone erroneously detected a criminal's heartbeat (okay, this happens already, but "law enforcement" get's a new excuse)?

And besides it's plain creepy, whether the technologies have much practical utility in state or corporate hands or not. Surely that's as good a reason as any to oppose them if one chooses?


Beyond my wildest dreams! The Collectivists have come out of the woodwork. I could deconstruct OP's prose style to show an excess of privacy, or privacy yearning to be noticed in public, or cunning obscurantism masking revolutionary purpose, but certainly not intent to communicate with the common man. And God bless OP for being so, er, individualistic, and coming up with such a gem of a description of JC.

I will just ask, lacking any obvious collective organization to guide us, and surrounded with false consciousness of all kinds, how else can we know the revolutionary moment, the time to throw ourselves on the gears (or light ourselves on fire) without checking with that private, inner conscience? I'm with Sartre on this point.


"it's plain creepy"
i think you really begin and end with this

the rest is filler
consider this

the state has a budget for "internal security"
anything that makes it cheaper to keep an eye
on people of interest prolly increases the list of people of interest as much as it deepens the penetration of the eye
but now the state must act on its info
that is what matters as you imply

better informed smart attacks
might in fact reduce innocent colaterals
or and i think this more likely
simply increase the range
and swiftness of action

what this runs up against is the why of it

if the state is attacking n% of its "subjects/citizens" perhaps going
up to n + m brings on a popular response
and that response brings on emergent
extended counter organizing

the structure of struggle modifies on both sides

one thinks of lenin's conception of the revolutionary org
under russian conditions
circa 1900

and the growth of that org type under increased repression

the morph in the 50's
toward Euro communism

-- ie high octane social democracy vs
system destablizing class conflict--

was a product of reduced not increased repression eh ??


i think you can turn
your proposition inside out

my hopeless individuality
cries out for organizational discipline

a fact claim
i very much endorse btw

i yearn for party harness
not because i yearn to be contained trimmed and shaped up
but because i yearn to be useful

alas there is no mass cadre vangurard party
we must be content to operate
thru circles
in the movements around is
grand master of events

in the vast causal intricacy
of her drama
Clio has uses even for us
painted petty bourgeois flits

milton as we all most remember
of course
referencing another sort
of grand master of human events
i think
makes a similar observation that is (after this "personal " set up )

"When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker,and present My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask.

But Patience, to prevent That murmur, soon replies,..."

(here comes the money part)

"God doth not need Either man's work or his own gifts."

indeed eh

" Who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best."

" His state Is kingly:
thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;"

(ready ? )

"They also serve who only stand and wait."

i suspect lots of u may mistake the meaning
of this line btw:

"Who best Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best"

much falls thru to hell
with a miss reading of that bit

Clapham Omnibus:

"And eternal delight and deliciousness will be his, who coming to lay him down, can say with his final breath- O P!- chiefly known to me by Thy rod- mortal or immortal, here I die." with apologies to Melville.

I don't even think the total information awareness the marketers are assembling raises the same problems it would if it were state-based. The problem isn't that it conveys deep and wide powers on its beneficiaries.

The problem is that is works well enough to keep the system (and the national media hologram which is its sponsored vehicle and by-product) operating. It's death by a thousand cuts, not a crushing via a single Iron Fist.

The problem is waste, of precious, dwindling resources, and of time.


"the problem is waste, of precious, dwindling resources...."

that if true is indeed a trumping consideration

i lack all conviction on that however


I won't/can't argue with Milton, even though I think he supports my position in this passage. "would'st that he were with us at this hour!"

Op-san, why the doubt? Do you doubt peak oil? With what/how does anybody replace the devil's excrement?

With what/how does anybody replace the devil's excrement?
Quark power. Just around the corner.
David H:

Insert long poem or song lyric, with a straight face.

Dig this, from Der Spiegel:

"One major indicator of the price of the future can be found in fields east of the Bavarian town of Straubing. Land that used to produce potatoes and corn is now covered with solar modules that have turned it into a gleaming blue landscape the size of 180 football pitches. Not far from there the aristocratic Thurn und Taxis family wants to launch an even bigger solar project.

"This young industry is enjoying an incredible boom, but one that has come at a high price. Solar panel operators receive a fixed tariff for every kilowatt hour of power they produce. That tariff is well above the standard market price for electricity and it averages 31 cents, guaranteed for more than 20 years. At the start, no one realized the implications of this subsidy, which wasn't seen as a significant outlay because of the weak capacity of solar modules and the relatively few hours of sunshine in Germany.

"But the government's unprecedented generosity regarding solar power has prompted thousands of private individuals and companies to invest in solar panels. According to the RWI institute, the total subsidy payout over the last 10 years has been €60 to €80 billion. The yield has been modest by comparison. Solar power covers just 1.1 percent of German electricity requirements."

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