New patent application could allow Apple to brick jailbroken iPhones

A troubling patent application published by Apple and uncovered by CNet could allow the company to restrict the functions of devices that have been jailbroken or unlocked.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor on

ZDNet's own Sam Diaz posted a blog about a troubling application published by Apple via the U.S. Patent and Trade Office. A CNET post unearthed a doozy of a patent that could allow Apple to restrict the functions of devices that have been jailbroken or unlocked.

The patent application titled "Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device" was filed in February 2009 and published last week. It details security measures that automatically protect devices from thieves and other "unauthorized users."


From CNET:

Unauthorized users apparently applies to those who engage in jailbreaking, which allows devices to run apps not approved by the company producing the operating system–such as Apple, the main target of such bypasses. The application, which was filed in February 2009 and published Thursday, describes measures to identify “particular activities that may indicate suspicious behavior,” so that “safety measures” can be taken to restrict the device’s functions. Those activities include the “hacking, jailbreaking, unlocking, or removal of a SIM card,” according to the application. Apple also intends to send warnings to owners via e-mail or text message when such activity is detected.

While the security ramifications are tantelizing, including being able to identify an authorized user by their "photograph, recording, or heartbeat" it gets a little creepy to think that my phone could be eavesdropping on my voice pattern, let alone my heartbeat.

Apple's sure to say that patent would simply be another layer of security that will keep your private data out of the hand of someone that finds your phone in a bar... but the blogosphere is getting into a tizzy that Apple could use the patent -- if granted -- to brick an iPhone that's been jailbroken or unlocked.

I'm with Sam on this one: an adult that purchases an iPhone should be entitled to run whatever software they want on it. Period, end of story.

Are Apple's intentions pure on this one? Or is Cupertino so paranoid about protecting the App Store ecosystem that it would resort to bricking jailbroken and unlocked iPhones?

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