Apple patents infrared technology that can be used to block photography or recording

Apple recently filed a patent (9,380,225) that could introduce technology allowing an infrared signal to be deployed that blocks iPhones from taking photos or video, aimed at usage in places like concert arenas and movie theatres.

I’ve commentated frequently about Apple’s positions on security and privacy, and based on their reactions to consumer privacy issues in the past (like the San Bernardino FBI case) they seem to do their best to protect user’s privacy, likely to avoid the press firestorm that would undoubtedly ensue if they appeared to be collaborating with third parties to censor or spy on their users.

The technology behind the patent they filed is interesting, and would certainly be valuable to certain businesses / performing artists – however, the existence of such a technology would certainly raise significant concerns about who could access it, and whether it constitutes censorship. It’s almost guaranteed that hackers would attempt to develop technology to trigger video blocking, and governments would also be likely to pursue this technology as well. These concerns are compounded with the fact that lawsuits would be highly likely, and could rule the use of such technology an invasion of privacy. Plus, iPhone users could simply switch to a competing handset (like Android) that dowsn’t implement this hardware.

It’s important to remember that big companies like Apple file literally thousands of patents, most of which are never used. Apple is a very publicity-smart company, and I believe it’s highly unlikely that they would ever introduce a controversial feature that would alienate their customers to the level that this technology likely would.

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