Apple patents anti-surveillance technology that clones your identity online

Apple patents anti-surveillance technology that clones your identity online

In a surprising move, Apple has successfully patented a technology that aims to protect users from data collection by governments, businesses, and cybercriminals.

The patent, released Tuesday by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and uncovered by Patently Apple, outlines a system that clones users identities, then inserts fake details into those clones to create a jumbled mess of information in an attempt to throw off data collectors — a privacy protection process that Apple describes as “polluting electronic profiling.”

“A cloned identity is created for a principal [i.e. a user],” reads the patent. “Areas of interest are assigned to the cloned identity, where a number of the areas of interest are divergent from true interests of the principal. One or more actions are automatically processed in response to the assigned areas of interest. The actions appear to network eavesdroppers to be associated with the principal and not with the cloned identity.”

In short, this is an entirely different tactic for combating online privacy invasion. Rather than try to hide your identity — which is becoming increasingly difficult, as the Web seeps deeper and deeper into our lives — Apple’s idea is to simply hide behind a wall of noise. 

“Data collection is not prevented; rather, it is encouraged for the cloned identity and intentionally populated with divergent information that pollutes legitimate information gathered about the principal,” reads the patent.

Sounds good — a little too good.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Apple will ever release a product that includes this profile pollution technology, but it is certainly encouraging (and not the least bit curious) to see the Cupertino electronics giant diving into these waters.

We must also note that this type of technology seems quite an odd endeavor for Apple. Not entirely, mind you — the company is notorious for protecting its own privacy, after all — but it does appear to come out of nowhere. In fact, such a technology feels out of place coming from any large corporation. As Apple itself notes in the patent: “Individuals, particularly American citizens, have always been suspect of the motivations and actions of their government and ‘Big Business.'”

That we have. And I must admit, the sheer unusualness of this patent leaves me equally suspect and uneasy — it’s just too good to be true.

The details of the patent are vast and convoluted, like something out of science fiction. But if you’re interested, I highly recommened checking out the patent itself, as well as Patently Apple’s thorough walk-through of it.

Deals

Amazon Prime Day deals are ending, but you can still get great bargains

Prime Day 2019 has come to an end for Amazon, but that doesn't mean the Prime Day deals are over. With deals from Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon still going on, this massive shopping event is continuing on through the week.
Mobile

It's still worth boarding this fleet of old flagship phones if you want to save

Do you really need to blow your savings to get the latest smartphone, or is it worth looking at the top phones from yesteryear? We highlight some old flagships that are still worth buying and discuss new budget phones as an alternative.
Movies & TV

Apple TV+: Everything we know about Apple’s Netflix-style streaming service

Apple has an ambitious slate of original programming it has been developing for its streaming service Apple TV+, and now we know some details about where and when we'll be able to see it. Here's everything we know about Apple TV+ so far.
Mobile

Free yourself! How to unlock a phone from the icy hands of your wireless carrier

Do you want to know how to unlock a phone through your carrier or a third-party service like DoctorSIM? Regardless of which way you want to go, we've compiled a list of requirements and methods for doing so.
Mobile

A.I. photo filters use neural networks to make photos look like Picassos

Artificial Intelligence apps put a novel spin on social network-style photo filters. Instead of just overlaying an effect, these photo filters use machine learning and neural networks to transform an image into a predetermined style.
Wearables

FCC filing reveals impressive specs for luxury Movado Connect 2.0 smartwatch

It's been a while since we saw a smartwatch from luxury watchmaker Movado, but that drought may be over soon. FCC filings for the Movado Connect 2.0 have surfaced, and they paint a picture of a high-spec smartwatch.
Deals

Walmart extends Prime Day sale into Sunday: 4K TV, Apple, and Smart Watch deals

Prime Day 2019 has come to an end for Amazon, but that doesn't mean the deals are over. Walmart's Prime Day sale has been extended into the weekend. With 4K TVs, Apple Watches, and Nintendo Switch deals, there are great savings.
Deals

Walmart drops price of latest Apple AirPods down to just $145

Looking to flex with new AirPods? Walmart somehow still has the latest AirPods discounted to just $145 and available for next day shipping if you order in the next 10 hours.
Mobile

The best mobile collage apps, for when a single image or video just won't cut it

Today's collage apps combine images and videos into a crafted presentation complete with fonts, stickers, memes, and other elements that tells a story, instead of relying on a single iconic representation of a place or event.
Deals

Amazon hacks nearly $300 off the price of this 13-inch MacBook Air

Amazon is selling a 13-inch Retina display MacBook Air at nearly $300 off of its original price. In addition to a Retina display, this MacBook Air features 256GB of SSD storage and two Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Computing

Lost without Print Screen? Here's how to take a screenshot on your Mac

Whether you prefer to use keyboard shortcuts or applications such as Grab and Preview, this guide will teach you how to take a screenshot on a Mac. Once you know how, you'll be able to capture images within seconds.
Mobile

Text up a storm with the best messaging apps for iOS and Android

These days, most people tend to favor digital messages over phone calls. We have the best messaging apps that allow you to share photos and documents, send text messages, and more with end-to-end encryption.
Mobile

Seeking photo storage and backup in the cloud? Google Photos gets the picture

Google Photos offers free, unlimited photo storage in the cloud, making photos instantly accessible and sharable. Google also uses artificial intelligence image analysis to organize photos and videos, making them easy to search and edit.
Computing

Listen up Apple: Here’s how to fix the Touch Bar once and for all

If you’re wondering what the point of the MacBook Pro’s Touch Bar is, you’re not alone. We know it’s got potential, but it’s never managed to hit the heights of what it promised. Here’s what Apple must do to change it for the…