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.

Business

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

J.J. Abrams wraps production on Star Wars: Episode IX with a heartfelt message

Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams has wrapped production on Star Wars: Episode IX, which he directed and co-wrote. Here's everything we know about the movie before it premieres in December 2019.
Mobile

Save space on your iPhone by turning off Live Photos in the camera app

If you want to save storage space on your iPhone or reduce the size of your backup for iCloud, then you should think about turning off Live Photos in the camera app. Find out exactly how to do it with our easy guide.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.
Mobile

Be careful who you bokeh, jokes Apple’s latest iPhone ad

With iPhone sales under pressure, you'd think there wouldn't be much to laugh about at Apple HQ. But the company has seen fit to inject some humor into its latest handset ad, which highlights the camera's Depth Control feature.
Mobile

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.
Mobile

Flip from portrait to landscape as we reveal how to rotate a video on iPhone

If you've accidentally shot a video in portrait orientation and you want to flip to landscape, then this is the guide for you. We'll explain how to use iMovie to rotate a video on your iPhone or iPad for free and suggest alternative apps.
Mobile

The 2019 iPhone could put a charge into your other Apple gadgets

While it's not been long since the last iPhones launched, rumors for the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
Deals

Amazon cuts prices on the Apple Watch Series 3 for Presidents’ Day

The Apple Watch Series 3 is seeing the same price cut we saw during the Amazon sale just last week. So if you're hoping to pick up an Apple Watch for less than $250, this $50 discount from Amazon can make that happen for you.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for February 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Deals

Need a new tablet? Here are the best iPad deals for February 2019

In the wide world of tablets, Apple is still the king. If you're on team Apple and just can't live without iOS, we've curated an up-to-date list of all of the best iPad deals currently available for December 2018.
Computing

Chrome is a fantastic browser, but is is still the best among new competitors?

Choosing a web browser for surfing the web can be tough with all the great options available. Here we pit the latest versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, Edge, and Vivaldi against one another to find the best browsers for most users.