Police across America have grown disturbed with the public and their desire to film them while they are on duty, especially with the rash of police brutality videos that have been circulating through popular media sites such as YouTube. So much so that they are trying to push laws through that make it illegal for citizens to record them regardless of the laws they may break when dealing with suspects. While American citizens are demanding more transparency from law enforcement, Apple appears to be toying with the idea of cementing a police state with a new app that will stop your phone from working if police are busy doing a bust.
Apple claims that they do not have nefarious intentions for wanting to force such information blackouts on the public, stating that they are designing the app to protect “sensitive” media and protecting the interests of places like movie theaters and concert halls where bootlegged videos are commonplace. But many believe that putting the control over the blackout areas in the hands of the government and local police is a bad idea which will enable both agencies to commit further atrocities on the American people without an unbiased medium to keep those drunk with power in check. Apple confirms the use of forced blackouts, stating that the app will help “covert police or government operations [which] may require complete ‘blackout’ conditions.”
“Additionally,” Apple says,” the wireless transmission of sensitive information to a remote source is one example of a threat to security. This sensitive information could be anything from classified government information to questions or answers to an examination administered in an academic setting.”
Apple received the patents needed to transmit an encoded signal to all wireless devices, forcing them to shut down all recording functions which would be activated by GPS, WiFi, or mobile base-stations and create a “geofence” around buildings or other areas of activity, shutting down the ability for anyone to reveal to the public the realities going on within. It directly attacks the ability to record and send digital information, allowing for a “black zone” of complete privacy. This raises fear that the government could use the new technology during protests or violent law enforcement situations to protect their own interests.
Indeed, many liken the move between Apple, the US government, and national law enforcement agencies to a new “axis of evil,” pointing out the tactics of places like North Korea and China who have both used media blackouts to hide horrid atrocities from the world.
Still, Apple is trying to keep their hands cleaner than they look by saying that control of this new technology, if implemented, would be in the hands of business and network owners as well as government and police agencies.
“As wireless devices such as cellular telephones, pagers, personal media devices and smartphones become ubiquitous, more and more people are carrying these devices in various social and professional settings,” it explains in the patent. “The result is that these wireless devices can often annoy, frustrate, and even threaten people in sensitive venues.”
But who is Apple really looking out for when they say this, and whose interests are they trying to protect? Mitt Romney’s 47 percent was exposed via the current standard, as were the recent racist and slanderous remarks of Donald Sterling and Justin Bieber. Could the new app simply be a “get out of morality free” card for those who smile in your face before stabbing you in the back? Who really was this app made to protect?
In a country that has already lost many of the freedoms we once held as “truths self-evident,” this new app seems less like protecting the privacy of the individual and more like the removal of the ability to defend one’s self via video recording, especially when you consider whose hands Apple is happy to place that power into. Public opinion may very well sway this path, as it has done with large corporations before, so the final destiny of this new technology is still anyones guess.