Disastrous Implications of New Apple Patent for Blocking Cellphone Video

Doubtless in response to pleas from the entertainment industry, Apple has patented new technology to disable cellphone video based on external signals from public venues. Now imagine if that same technology were deployed by repressive regimes. Goodbye to one of the greatest tools we've yet seen for advancing democracy.

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  1. Think for a moment about the pro-democracy impact of cellphone video combined with online services like YouTube:

  2. 25th January Egypt 2011!
  3. Now consider this devastating story about a new Apple patent application, which would allow public venues to deploy infra-red transmitters that could disable the video camera (and still camera) in cellphones, or otherwise control their operation:

  4. Talk about short-sighted!  

    I hope Apple has the guts and good sense never to deploy this technology, and instead uses the patent to prevent it being implemented by others.  Yeah, right! If it were Google, that might be more than a vain hope.

    I sometimes think that our entertainment industries are one of the most pernicious industries on our planet.  Not only are we "Amusing Ourselves to Death" as Neil Postman once suggested, we're letting these industries put a serious crimp on innovations whose impact are far more important to our society.
    When we look back on the history of media in our era, we will see how, bit by bit, we gutted one of the engines of democracy in the interest of protecting and enlarging media industry profits.  A very poor trade indeed.

  5. P.S. @JessShambler responded on Twitter:

  6. Yes, 'tis true that some people would choose not to buy iPhones because of this. But how long before the tech is implemented more widely?  As @2thirty wrote:
  7. Indeed.  But consider how many people won't have that app.  All it takes is some sand in the gears, and suddenly, only pre-committed activists have the tools of democracy.  Ordinary people are kept silent.
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