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  • A Golden Chain Through Apple’s Nose

    Posted by Shannon Love on June 20th, 2011 (All posts by )

    My good Internet friend and blog mentor Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit falls victim to the Internet rumor that Apple has patented a technology that will allow anyone to disable an iPhone’s camera against the wishes of the user.

    Of course Apple did no such thing, but for the purposes of discussion let’s assume that they did. Now, should I be panicking that I will someday have pranksters, evil concert promoters, corrupt police and authoritarian governments disabling my iPhone camera anytime they want?

    Nope, not worried in the least. Why? Is it because I think the people who run Apple are so good and noble that they would never do such a thing? No, it’s just the opposite. I am confident I will always control my iPhone camera because I think Apple is run by a bunch of “greedy” bastards.

    Let me put it this way: Everyone who would pay hundreds of dollars for an iPhone that had such a camera-disabling “feature” in it, please raise your hand.

    What? Nobody?

    Exactly.

    Economic self-interest (that’s “greed” for you leftists) is the most powerful protector of liberties that exists.

    Apple is in business to make money and there is no conceivable way they could make money by including such a stupid functionality into their products, so they most definitely won’t. Neither will any other manufacture of any other devices, present or future.

    Even if every executive at Apple did suddenly wake up brain dead one morning and decided that people really wanted to pay good money for a mobile devices whose camera could be disabled by an overly bright 14 year old, the problem would be immediately self-correcting. Apple would go down in history as the corporation that committed suicide.

    There are literally hundreds of technological means inherent in the computing device you are using right now which would allow the company that sold you the device to seize control over one or more functions against your wishes (and yes, that include Linux boxes as well). The primary and most effective protection you have against that possibility is the economic self-interest of the people who sell you the hardware and software. If they piss you and their other customers off enough they go out of business and someone who won’t piss you off will take their place.

    Don’t believe me? Try this: Everyone who has at any time stopped using a company’s products or services because the company did something you didn’t like, raise your hand.

    Look at that, every single one of you raised your hand.

    Each time you pay someone good money for some product or service, you run a golden chain through their nose and that golden chain gives you a direct means of control over them. When you yank, they follow. It’s not perfect control but it is a major source of control whose effects dwarf those of the government, trial lawyers or self-appointed crusaders. The control failures that politicians and activists like to crow about represents a microscopic fraction of all possible failures. 99.99% of the time it works so perfectly we are not even aware the control exists.

    No, if you are worried about losing control over your devices, the people you should be afraid of are power-mad politicians and “activist” do-gooders. For example, all TVs shipped in the last decade have the “V-Chip” installed which is intended to provide parental control. TV manufactures fought the chip because it didn’t make them any money. They didn’t care who watched what when, they just cared if people bought their TVs. In the end, the “greedy”, “uncaring” and “socially irresponsible” TV manufactures lost the fight and now we all have a potentially hackable override built in to all our TVs.

    You don’t need an advanced degree in computer science to know that the speculative technology in Apple’s patent application is utterly harmless. You just need a little basic economic horse-sense. Until you start running into a lot of people who say, “Gosh, I wish I had a smart phone that would let complete strangers turn off the camera against my wishes,” you have an iron-clad guarantee that you will always control your iPhone’s camera.

    “Greed” will protect us.

     

    32 Responses to “A Golden Chain Through Apple’s Nose”

    1. Daran Says:

      Exactly, that is why region codes on DVD players were such a failure. Oh wait, they weren’t. But luckily, corporate giants such as Amazon would never dream of wiping a book from your Kindle library. Well, at least they will apologize when they do it the first time. Even Google ‘totally accidentally’ designed, installed and ran for months a wifi snooping system while building Google Streetview. That makes Google’s ‘don’t be evil’ slogan almost as funny as Apple’s 1984 commercial now is. Meanwhile people are happily buying into closed eco-systems such as Xbox Live and Playstation network.

      IMO Europeans will get better privacy protection (when it comes to corporate intrusions) than Americans as the current crop of internet giants are US corporations, so it doesn’t hurt our domestic industry. Netherlands is seriously discussing Net Neutrality and cookie restrictions.

      The only thing that is protecting us from corporations are the inefficiencies, corruption, old-fashioned laziness, turf-wars and other human foibles that run rampant within any institute of significant size. Luckily the free market has a build-in tendency to cut such companies down to size. I wish we had something to take care of government bloat as well.

    2. andrewdb Says:

      I’m with Daran. This is why DRM isn’t in virtually every sort of media player available today, and why the RIAA doesn’t dictate what laws Congress passes. If only.

    3. PenGun Says:

      We are not paying attention are we?

      Greed is what has destroyed your economy. Greed is the driver of the massive corporations that have co-opted and now own your country. Greed is not good for you as you will realize in a short while. That you have not already speaks to your lack of insight.

      “Blinded by the right”

    4. Robert Schwartz Says:

      “Let me put it this way: Everyone who would pay hundreds of dollars for an iPhone that had such a camera-disabling “feature” in it, please raise your hand.”

      Apple fanboiz are so deluded that they would pay hundreds of dollars to buy an iPhone, if it shot a .45 into their heads at random.

    5. Shannon Love Says:

      Daran,

      Exactly, that is why region codes on DVD players were such a failure. Oh wait, they weren’t.

      Yeah, that’s because only a tiny percentage of DVD users ever cared about region codes. Plus, region codes are pretty much necessitated by the laws of different regions, e.g. in America you can sell a DVD extolling the supposed virtues of Nazis if your dumb enough but it is illegal in most of Europe. Region codes allow distributors to keep from running a foul of such restrictions by restricting were the DVDs will operate. There are also tax issues, labeling requirements, digital watermarking etc. Even so, if enough users complained about region codes, they would go away.

      But luckily, corporate giants such as Amazon would never dream of wiping a book from your Kindle library.

      That didn’t dream of it. They screwed up and were extraordinarily hasting to rectify the problem and make sure it would never happen again, which it hasn’t. That in fact is an excellent example of market pressures in action.

      Even Google ‘totally accidentally’ designed, installed and ran for months a wifi snooping system while building Google Streetview.

      Well, they didn’t “snoop”, their automated system just captured passwords on wi-fi spots that, well, broadcast their passwords. I don’t suppose you have the least plausible explaination for how the “evil” Google intended to profit by “snooping” on people’s wi-fi? Didn’t think so.

      Meanwhile people are happily buying into closed eco-systems such as Xbox Live and Playstation network.

      Yeah, how stupid when they could be buying all those cutting edge, high quality Linux game consoles with huge game libraries. Again, people buy “closed” gaming consoles because the consoles do what the user’s want them to do for the price paid.

      BTW, it’s probably before your time but the first generation of gaming consoles back in the early 80s were “open” in that anyone with an eprom burner could release a game cartridge. The end result was not tons of consumer choice and freedom but a flood of crappy rip off games, some just the same version sold over and over again with some color bits swapped. It got so bad, consumers just stopped buying games and consoles and the industry collapsed. Nintendo revived the industry in the late 80s by “closing” the system by requiring that games be licensed. They enforced a bare minimum quality standard plus created a revenue stream independent of the box itself which lowered prices for everyone. So, I think the advantages of your fictional “open” gaming console are equally fictional.

      IMO Europeans will get better privacy protection (when it comes to corporate intrusions) than Americans as the current crop of internet giants are US corporations, so it doesn’t hurt our domestic industry.

      Of the 30 largest companies in the US 20 of them did not exist in 1970. In France, the top 30 companies in 1970 are still the top 30 companies today (barring a couple of mergers.) The reason Europe has no major computer companies is because European countries are corporatist states in which the government protects the interest of established major corporations against all challenges large and small. Computer and internet companies upset a whole lot of established players and in Europe that is not allowed.

      Netherlands is seriously discussing Net Neutrality and cookie restrictions.

      Net Neutrality is a nonsense term. For company A, “net neutrality” means company A gets the government to rig the system in its benefit while company B thinks the same thing. In Europe, that always translates into the big established company gets the government to do its bidding. And why exactly should I trust the government to muck around with my cookies more than a private company?

      The only thing that is protecting us from corporations are the inefficiencies, corruption, old-fashioned laziness, turf-wars and other human foibles that run rampant within any institute of significant size.

      No argument with that from me except you seem to imply that some other “thing” might exist that could do better.

      I wish we had something to take care of government bloat as well.

      We do, they’re called revolutions and wars aka “hostile takeovers.”

    6. Shannon Love Says:

      Robert Schwartz,,

      Apple fanboiz are so deluded that they would pay hundreds of dollars to buy an iPhone, if it shot a .45 into their heads at random.

      Well, that would be a market based auto correction mechanism as well. ;-)

      Apple does have unusually strong brand identification but I do really marvel at the idea that hundreds of millions of people are so fantastically stupid that they will blow huge amounts of money and forgo all the supposed enormous benefits of Windows and Linux. Right. No, for a lot of people Apple products provide benefits that no other company or ecosystem can.

      The idea that there is one true and right platform that does everything better for everyone in all circumstances is nonsense.

    7. Shannon Love Says:

      PenGun,

      Greed is what has destroyed your economy.

      That’s true if you mean the “greed” of tens of millions of ordinary Americans who clamored to the government to provide them houses that the free-market said they couldn’t afford. It’s true if by “greed” you mean all the Leftwing politician who sought votes and kickbacks by offloading the risk of issuing mortgages off banks and onto the government thereby, intentionally and by design, bribing banks to make loans that the free-market said were to risky. It’s true if by “greed” you mean all the people who cheered as the by-design housing boom took off while ignoring all the free-market advocates who warned that massive government intervention had seriously distorted the market,

      Is that the “greed” you had in mind? The government created the housing boom by 30 years of sabotaging every free-market correction mechanism all under the rationalization that restricting home loans to people who could safely pay them back was somehow a failure of the free-market.

      You slaves of the state frighten me. You’ve been brainwashed to believe that people who respond to price signals, people who do what other people want them to do, are evil and dangerous. At the same time, you venerate those who do nothing but seek more and more power over the mechanisms of mass violence such that they can impose their will on others by force. You’ve essentially adopted the medieval mind set in which the aristocratic killers who did nothing but wage war and prepare to wage war were the moral superiors to the peasants (the people of the vill i.e. “villians”) who did nothing but grow food and the merchants who never did anything violent at all. Once you believe that violence is admirable and trade is disdainful, you’ve become evil.

      There is a direct correlation in the last past century between how strongly someone denounces greed and the number of people they mass-murder. People who decry greed and say that violence based political power is morally superior are objectively massively more dangerous than the “greedy”.

    8. Daran Says:

      Yeah, that’s because only a tiny percentage of DVD users ever cared about region codes. Plus, region codes are pretty much necessitated by the laws of different regions, e.g. in America you can sell a DVD extolling the supposed virtues of Nazis if your dumb enough but it is illegal in most of Europe. Region codes allow distributors to keep from running a foul of such restrictions by restricting were the DVDs will operate. There are also tax issues, labeling requirements, digital watermarking etc. Even so, if enough users complained about region codes, they would go away.

      Nope, that was in the good old days when movies and DVDs were released in Europe 6 months after they were released in the US. Of course, these days they have to do a worldwide release or the internet will do it for them.

      Well, they didn’t “snoop”, their automated system just captured passwords on wi-fi spots that, well, broadcast their passwords. I don’t suppose you have the least plausible explaination for how the “evil” Google intended to profit by “snooping” on people’s wi-fi? Didn’t think so.

      Not sure how they intended to profit. They have plenty ‘let’s throw it to the wall and see what sticks’ projects. Still, if someone aims a camera/microphone/wireless sniffer at my windows and tells me not to worry until they have figured out how to profit from it, I’ll start worrying right away. (But in the meantime I’m still too lazy to switch away from gmail as my primary mail.)

      Also, I never did claim Europe comes up with better computer companies, only that we will get a bit more privacy due to our lack of doing that. It’s not necessarily the trade-off I would prefer, but at least I’ll take the benefits I can get.

      Occasionally our government does things that actually make sense for the citizens, such as the current EU push to lower mobile roaming charges.

      No argument with that from me except you seem to imply that some other “thing” might exist that could do better.

      Nope, its human nature. The beauty of the free market system is that it tries to channel those selfish energies into providing valuable services. Certainly beats the socialist/communist tendency to put everybody in re-education camps.

      Guess the saying on the tree of Liberty still holds true.

    9. Whitehall Says:

      There could be a market for video-prevention devices. A concert ticket usually stipulates no recordings by the ticket holder. “Admit One” is a contract. Hence, measures to block copyright infringement might be in order and Apple might even have some legal exposure as facilitating copyright infringement.

      The legitimate blocking could lead to illegitmate blocking – police forces, for example.

      All that said, large corporations LOVE patents and will go after just about anything an engineer “invents” even if it might not be useful directly for the corporation. Being able to block competitors alone is often worth the legal and filing fees.

    10. Shannon Love Says:

      Whitehall,

      All that said, large corporations LOVE patents and will go after just about anything an engineer “invents” even if it might not be useful directly for the corporation. Being able to block competitors alone is often worth the legal and filing fees.

      That is true and many people argue that the patent system has broke over the last 20 years. There was a series of court cases back in the 80s and early 90s that substantially shifted the scope of patents making them overly broad.

      Previously, you usually had to actually build and use the technology patented to have a real firm case for fighting infringement. However, gradually it became that you could patent a broad concept and then sue people who made a real functioning tech that resembled the broad concept.

      There was an “engineer” back in the late 80s who had back in the 70s sketched out on a literal napkin a method for using video to control an assembly line. We’re talking something like I would draw up. He was granted a patent and then started suing anyone who had a video camera in the same building as an assembly line. He basically ran a shakedown on every major manufacture even though his patent was totally obscure and so minimalist that it had contributed nothing to advancing the real technology.

      After a few cases like that, companies started patenting everything their people thought up just in case. Then they started buying up every patent they could that touched upon their business at all.

      A lot of “shareholder value” lawsuits back in the 90s also centered on failures of fiduciary officers to patent which drives a lot this patent everything nonsense.

      Most people have absolutely no idea what challenges a tech company like Apple faces when it comes to patents and pleasing absolutely everyone. I’ve just scratched the surface.

    11. Shannon Love Says:

      Daran,

      Nope, that was in the good old days when movies and DVDs were released in Europe 6 months after they were released in the US. Of course, these days they have to do a worldwide release or the internet will do it for them

      Well, the internet has also made it easier to get things like translations for case jackets done and the EU has done away with a lot of national barriers and special requirements.

      I don’t see why you automatically seem to assume that the slow release of DVDs in Europe was some sinister ploy on the part of DVD publishers. Publishers only make money when they transfer the DVD from their hands into the hands of the customer. Anything that slows that process down slows down their cash flow and profitability.

      If you want to look for blame, look at governments. The government has no motive to get DVDs to you quickly and may have several motives to slow the process down.

      Not sure how they intended to profit.

      They didn’t intend to profit and all the technology specialist who looked at the matter said it was just the accidental collection of to much broadcasted information. Nobody at Google set out to “snoop”.

      Still, if someone aims a camera/microphone/wireless sniffer at my windows and tells me not to worry until they have figured out how to profit from it, I’ll start worrying right away.

      Gosh, it almost sounds like you would like some kind of technology that could disable someone else’s camera/microphone/wireless-sniffer when they aimed it at your property. Strange how these things come full circle.

      It’s important not to accept at face value the hysterical narratives of these technological incidents that are peddled by those who make money selling the idea that something significant and sinister happened. Google just drove down the street taking pictures and listening for wi-fi broadcast in the area. In the process of getting the names and locations that the wi-fi stationsbroadcast they accidentally recorded those improperly configured wi-fi stations that broadcast their own security info.

      This is somewhat akin to seeing someone taking a picture on a public street, jumping in front of them and shoving your driver’s license before the lens and then complaining that they were “snooping” about your license.

      Also, I never did claim Europe comes up with better computer companies, only that we will get a bit more privacy due to our lack of doing that.

      Actually, I don’t think you do have more privacy on a technological level, I think they just tell you that you do. Besides, given the level of required identification and general monitoring by the state, you certainly don’t have more privacy over all.

      Occasionally our government does things that actually make sense for the citizens, such as the current EU push to lower mobile roaming charges.

      Price fixing, which is what that is, always results in shortages. Pretty soon, the government will come back and demand the cell companies explain why people can’t get cell coverage when they roam. Then they will “fix” the problem with yet another mandate.

      How do you know your roaming charges are “to high”? Do you know what it cost the cell companies to provide that service? It’s easy for people to be surprised by a cost and then have politicians declare that the cost is “unreasonable”. Of course it is Europe so it is likely the corporatism leads to a lack of competition which in turn leads to government “correction” which leads to more corporatism which leads to more government “correction” and so…

      Texas used to have an invasive state government that set prices for things like phone service and shipping freight by truck. It was all to protect consumers but somehow we ended up with prices higher than surrounding states. We deregulated all that stuff after the oil bust and low and behold, prices came down and quality went up.

    12. Scott Says:

      So, I’ll just straight out ask it: is Apple incapable of rent-seeking? That is to say, should this patent be granted, there is simply no way Apple will ever suggest to the feds that perhaps it would be a good idea to require this feature for some assuredly noble cause? If they are incapable of doing that, and the feds should pass that rule for some assuredly noble cause, Apple will then license the patented technology free of charge to all comers?

      Go on, say that Apple would never be capable of rent-seeking and that they would allow all comers to use the feature free of charge. Then I’ll buy your end of it, and fret no more. No matter what Raymond & Reynolds and other thieving FOSSers tell me I must do.

    13. setbit Says:

      That’s not a bug, Shannon; it’s a feature.

      The hue and cry over Apple’s patent filing may or may not be relevant or necessary, but it is a key part of proper market functioning.

      The most efficient and effective market signals are those that find their mark before key business decisions are made. All this carping is a crystal clear market signal to Apple that any iPhone feature that even hints at preemptively shutting down the camera is going to be received very poorly by pretty much everybody (except maybe Big Government and Big Content).

      I hope Apple already knew this, but for sure they know now. Personally, I think you give Apple way too much credit by assuming that it is run by reliably smart and perceptive greedy bastards. On the contrary, the same traits that make Steve Jobs a visionary sometimes make him a stubborn fool. And Apple goes pretty much where Steve Jobs points it.

      But it doesn’t matter. We don’t have to wait to see if Apple is cooking up something foolish or perfidious, because any such plans are now in the process of being either scrapped or massively reworked.

      And in the unlikely event that Apple somehow doesn’t get the hint and does something that appears to confirm the accusations, that in turn will be a signal to both investors and consumers that Apple is not behaving rationally, since it clearly had advance warning.

      This sort of pre-market and meta-market feedback is very important, because large companies can do amazingly stupid things for surprisingly long periods of time before they feel the full economic consequences.

      Take Sony for example. They have been guilty of a variety of malicious and/or inept actions against their own customers for years now. I could probably come up with a dozen examples. Unfortunately, since most of those events have not been widely reported or understood, they haven’t drastically hurt sales, Sony has not significantly modified its behavior. Not until the recent PlayStation Network fiasco did a large portion of the consuming public get an idea of just how little Sony respects the people who buy their products.

      If the Sony’s earlier missteps had elicited a wider, angrier response, they might well have cleaned up their act to the point that the PlayStation Network intrusion would not have been attempted (because the hackers would not have viewed Sony as “fair game”) or would not have been successful (due to Sony taking their customers’ privacy seriously enough to properly secure their network).

      So Apple fans should count their blessings. All this hoopla means that lots of people actually care about Apple products. Microsoft can only dream about the day its mobile OS will be the target of this much “bad” press.

    14. ErisGuy Says:

      Clearly this is a vile proprietary attempt to forestall open standards that might be useful to, well, everyone. Apple should immediately open source this patent, so that beneficent governments everywhere (France, PRC, Canada, Saudi Arabia) can require freely its immediate implementation without paying Apple a dime.

      That should quell this controversy. Once’s it’s open sourced, its’ good!

      Seriously, I’m surprised such a scheme hadn’t already been anticipated. Any SF novels about mysterious and invisible beams shutting down recording equipment when said equipment is pointed a police officers, politicians, etc.?

    15. Jonathan Says:

      There are rumors from time to time of new tech schemes to block digital cameras. Afaik nothing ever comes of them. The problem is that it’s not likely to be practicable to get all of the main digital-device mfrs to cooperate, and even if the govt mandated installation of blocking technology in new cameras or recorders there would still be millions of unblocked older devices around, not to mention that people who wanted to could import unblocked devices from abroad. Maybe Apple is trying to lock up the technology for competitive purposes. If so, they were foolish not to anticipate the bad PR. But if they really are trying to implement camera-blocking as a DRM scheme they are foolish indeed.

    16. PenGun Says:

      “There is a direct correlation in the last past century between how strongly someone denounces greed and the number of people they mass-murder. People who decry greed and say that violence based political power is morally superior are objectively massively more dangerous than the “greedy”.”

      LOL I’m a Buddhist vegetarian, doing as little harm as I can.

      I have not denounced greed. I have just pointed out it is not good for you.

      Greed is really the “windfall response”. It’s a useful response to unexpected windfalls and can be a useful mechanism to best take advantage of that.

      As a way of life it has been one of the main drivers of your corporations rise to power over your government. They now call the shots.

      As they are only so smart this is starting to unravel and among the consequences will be the end of American exceptional-ism. A plus in my book. Carry on with your greed based society it is and will destroy your country as a great nation.

    17. Shannon Love Says:

      Scott,

      So, I’ll just straight out ask it: is Apple incapable of rent-seeking?

      Heh, I could point out some times when Apple has done just that. A big chunk of Apple’s business has always been with schools. Back in the 90s about half of it was. Schools mean overwhelming public institutions and that means sweet talking governments. Apple was a big funder and publisizer of the push back in the 90s to computerize schools all out the goodness of its own bottom line heart.

      That is to say, should this patent be granted,

      Apple will receive the patent because the patent office does not evaluate the desirability of a technology but simply its novel and original nature. Since the infrared augmented tag reading system is both novel and has many obvious disable uses the patent will be granted. There is no such thing a public commentary on patents.

      A big part of my complaint in this specific case is that Apple isn’t trying to patent a camera blocking technology. They are patenting an infrared augmented reality tag system. The camera blocking is a use case and use cases are not protected by the patent i.e. you can patent a new heat resistant paint and provide a use case of painting a safe with it but you don’t then get a patent over the entire concept of painting safes for heat resistance. Likewise, Apple wants to patent an augmented reality tag system but they can’t patent the concept of disabling cameras.

      …there is simply no way Apple will ever suggest to the feds…

      Could Apple petition a government or governments to require the technology? Sure they could. If enough people get tired of being filmed in the locker room or having their neighbors exterior web cam pointed at their back yard, then we could see a movement to require some kind of external camera control. In that case, Apple or someone else could exploit the situation.

      But there are literally dozens, if not hundreds of ways to block the camera now on any device. I myself could write an iPhone app right now that would turn off the camera if it was pointed in a particular direction at a particular location. The Apple patent adds nothing new in the least. Apple or any other company could in theory hijack the government to do anything (always a good argument for limited government) but I fail to see how the hue and cry in this case prevents that since there is no technological or legal linkage between the Apple patent and disabling cameras.

      We have limited amount of public time and attention and I think we have a lot bigger security and control threats than mere speculation in a patent.

      I also object to the cry of “this is why you should use Android” when Android is software and the Apple patent covers hardware. There is no such thing as open hardware. Android and other open source based products are every bit as vulnerable at the hardware level to legal requirements driven by rent seeking.

      The solution is to reduce the size and scope of government to reduce the effects of rent-seeking political behavior. Trying to abort technologies that might be misused someday has never, every worked.

    18. Shannon Love Says:

      Sebit,

      The hue and cry over Apple’s patent filing may or may not be relevant or necessary, but it is a key part of proper market functioning

      You make some excellence points and I really don’t have a major quarrel except to add the qualification that to be effective the “hue and cry” needs to be accurate and identify real possible threats and not mere cries of “wolf!” Is it possible that the Sony blunders went under reported because people and press were distracted by a lesser problem somewhere else that made a better narrative?

      Virtually everyone upset about the Apple patent will usually tell you that Android is a way safer and more under user control because it is open source. Yet, Android already has had several security exploits and a major social-engineering attack was just uncovered. Should we be burning time and attention about a speculative Apple technology that has no plausible market while the Android is structurally vulnerable because of its open design?

      We have to be careful not to suckered by dramatic narrative. Evil big corporation Apple turning off you camera is a dramatic narrative. Android letting the Russian mob turn off your camera isn’t even though it is a much bigger absolute risk.

    19. Shannon Love Says:

      ErisGuy,

      Clearly this is a vile proprietary attempt to forestall open standards that might be useful to, well, everyone. Apple should immediately open source this patent, so that beneficent governments everywhere (France, PRC, Canada, Saudi Arabia) can require freely its immediate implementation without paying Apple a dime.

      This has likely already happened with Linux. It is strongly believed that both the Chinese and the Iranians have created their own version of Linux for their own military use. In principle, there is nothing to prevent them from creating their own fork of Android with all kinds of surveillance built in and then requiring all their people to use it.

      Open source cuts both ways freedom wise. It gives people the ability in theory to circumvent government oversight but it also gives authoritarian governments the ability to create their own customized computerized oppression tools. they would have a much harder time of doing that if they had to build their oppression operating system from scratch.

    20. PenGun Says:

      “Open source cuts both ways freedom wise. It gives people the ability in theory to circumvent government oversight but it also gives authoritarian governments the ability to create their own customized computerized oppression tools. they would have a much harder time of doing that if they had to build their oppression operating system from scratch.”

      Not just governments, everybody is free to take and fork to their own benefit any free software. That is it’s purpose.

      You don’t like freedom much it seems. Does it scare you?

    21. Jonathan Says:

      Freedom doesn’t mean free goods. Some people get confused on this point.

    22. Shannon Love Says:

      PenGun,

      LOL I’m a Buddhist vegetarian, doing as little harm as I can.

      Besides advancing the interest of mass murdering dictators across the world (based on your previous post.) And Buddhist have killed a lot of people. The current mass murdering government of Burma is Buddhist. Weird but true. Vegetarianism is okay as long as you don’t go for the environment wrecking conspicuous consumption of “organic” foods.

      Besides, just because you think you are doing good doesn’t mean you are. Imagine going back in time and trying to warn Marxist at the big 1911 International meeting that within 20 years their doctrine would give birth to a totalitarian militarized state that would murder tens of millions of its own people before helping to start the greatest war in human history. They would have laughed and said, “That’s impossible. We oppose war and just seek to help the poor of the world. How could that possibly lead to the horror and bloodshed you describe.”

      Frankly, I think the “sustainability” movement will murder hundreds of millions from incompetence and neglect because it is based on a fundamentally flawed understanding of relationship between technology and the creation of resources. Yet, you would be hard pressed to fine any advocates of “sustainability” who think they are doing anything that could ever hurt anyone.

      The well meaning but clueless are far more dangerous in the long run than those operating from purely selfish motives.

      I have not denounced greed.

      Well, I think you did. Reread your previous post. Why wouldn’t you denounce something that is “destroying your country.” What? Don’t you care?

      I have just pointed out it is not good for you.

      I would agree in concept but as a practical matter “greed” has no concrete definition. E.g. you probably don’t consider yourself greedy and you may live a lifestyle considered moderate by the developed world’s standards but from the perspective of one of the 800 million people on earth who live on $2 a day, you are selfishly wallowing in unneeded luxury.

      “Greed” is so undefined as to be useless and actively dangerous. The use of the word “greed” doesn’t actually mean, “you are engaged in a destructive pursuit of money” but rather, “I need a pretext to take what you have away.” That makes a very, very dangerous term. More people have been murdered and impoverished under the banner of fighting “greed” than any other.

    23. Alcibiades Says:

      If I were a totalitarian government, I wouldn’t rely on infrared to deliver shutdown commands. Best to go with a radio frequency that can be broadcast to cover many blocks or an entire city. Even better, have the cameras themselves broadcast an identifying signal whenever in use.

    24. PenGun Says:

      “Well, I think you did. Reread your previous post. Why wouldn’t you denounce something that is “destroying your country.” What? Don’t you care?”

      Oh I care. I want you out of the way. I think you are bad for the progress of the world. I am pleased your embrace of greed is destroying your grip on the world. I expect you to fail.

      I am not pleased that this will cause a lot of hardship in your and other countries but we need you to be just a regular country and I guess self destruction will have to do.

      You have killed perhaps a million innocent people in your ‘principled’ attack on several countries that you decided were in some way against your interests. Iraq and Afghanistan were just countries working through their rise from poverty and ignorance and you decided they were is some way useful for your purpose. You attacked them. Iraq for it’s oil and some other area considerations … cough Israel, and Afghanistan for it’s position. Oh yeah 9/11, peripheral in reality, but a great excuse.

      Your countries greed will be it’s downfall. Fine by me.

    25. Jonathan Says:

      Penguin and Fred Lapides should start a blog together.

    26. John Says:

      I think “cuts both ways” is the crux of the matter. I confess, I’d love to have a way to turn off *other people’s* cameras. Especially governmental ones. Goodbye panopticon.

      However, I have a hunch that if anything ever comes of this at all (which I doubt) that we’ll get the worst of both worlds, governmental, corporate, and social panopticon, with the inability to photograph police officers or other governmental agents misbehaving.

    27. tehag Says:

      “Carry on with your greed based society it is and will destroy your country as a great nation”

      I couldn’t agree more. We need to kick out the greedy bureaucrats and politicians, their EU toadies and imitators, and put an end to the overwhelming and overweening greed of government. Only by abolishing the intelligensia’s and nomenclatura’s and apparatchick’s greed for power and money can we return to a free and prosperous society.

    28. tehag Says:

      “LOL I’m a Buddhist vegetarian, doing as little harm as I can.”

      The first part is hilarious. Buddhism. Seriously? The second part, by your actions here, is demonstrably false.

    29. setbit Says:

      Is it possible that the Sony blunders went under reported because people and press were distracted by a lesser problem somewhere else that made a better narrative?

      Point well taken. Public attention to corporate behavior is pretty well a zero-sum game, so any misdirected concern implies a roughly equal amount of publicity not given to real problems.

      While I give the Apple=bad meme more credence than you do, I agree that the Apple=bad ergo Android=good narrative is a pretty clear case of self-serving misdirection.

      It’s particularly galling to see ESR touting Android’s openness when in practice the platform is neither open nor secure enough to be a good example of the benefits of open source. Raymond of all people ought to recognize that. I don’t take him too seriously, but other people do.

    30. PenGun Says:

      “The first part is hilarious. Buddhism. Seriously? The second part, by your actions here, is demonstrably false.”

      Since I was about 18. There is certainly some humor in that but I doubt you get the point.

      I try to damage as little as possible. Any creature who has to deal with me will benefit from this. Saved a hummingbird from my cat yesterday, I was pleased when it recovered and flew away. It was my cat however, I do participate by feeding her.

      In this place I just try to tell the truth as it may be of some benefit to some. The fact there are many opposed to my purpose is fine by me. Nothing new at all there.

    31. bobby b Says:

      Iraq and Afghanistan were just countries working through their rise from poverty and ignorance and you decided they were i(n) some way useful for your purpose.

      Yeah, that poor old Mr. Hussein and his hilarious but misunderstood kids! For years, he works his butt off trying to make his people’s lives better – at great personal sacrifice, I might add – and we damned meddling USA types just wouldn’t cut him a break!

      I mean, he goes and develops the world’s greatest mass transit system ever seen – the Scud People-Movers – and all we can say is, he might deliver bombs with them some day.

      He’s finally able to find new homes in better places for all of his poor Kurd friends – they were stuck in the inhospitable northern mountains, living in packed huts with all of their relatives and sheep crowded in with them – and we accuse him of depopulating an area.

      He starts a new humanitarian inoculation system for those same Kurds, who suffer from disease and illness and starvation like nobody’s business – he calls it The Al-Anfal Campaign, or something like that – and we’re all like “oh, those inoculations cause autism and hives, or death by dissolving all lung tissues, or by stopping all nerve impulse conduction, or something”, and we make him quit THAT program.

      He tries, single-handedly, to clean up that environmental disaster known as the Marshes between the Tigres and the Euphrates rivers – he drains the huge swamps that make the area unusable – and we all complain that he’s made life harder for the Ma’dan people who had been squatting on the public land and throwing trash around and partying and ruining it for the kayakers.

      He announces that he’ll share his developing nuclear technology with his poorer, less developed Israeli cousins – he even promises to send some of his new nuclear machinery over to them as quickly as possible via incredibly fast rocket flights – and all Israel can say is “no, thanks.”

      Sheesh. He tried and tried to do good, and every time, we’d just cut him down and backstab him. Everybody picks on the lamb, I guess.

    32. PenGun Says:

      “i mean, he goes and develops the world’s greatest mass transit system ever seen – the Scud People-Movers – and all we can say is, he might deliver bombs with them some day.”

      Scuds are old obsolete Russian pieces. Really inaccurate long range artillery.

      He was your boy throughout the Iranian war and when he attacked the Kurds. You forget so quickly.

      He was suckered into attacking Kuwait when you were done with him. Oh yeah the ambassador screwed up … sure.

      Iraq is a hunk of the middle east carved up by the British and Americans for their own advantage. Indeed an ignorant and backward people and exploited to the max.