Apple has been granted a patent that would make your smartphone useless when entering an area deemed too sensitive for mobile photo and video.The technology, if implemented, would likely be welcomed by many. It could, for example, be extremely useful to Hollywood executives worried about mobile-savvy bootleggers and teachers concerned about less-than-honest students.
But it also has some darker potential implications. Recent political and populist movements — most notably the Arab Spring — have relied heavily on the power of mobile devices and social media. Disabling protesters’ ability to record police actions or other events would be a powerful controlling force.
And photo and video aren’t the only things that might be restricted. The patent, granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office in late August, would force devices to go to sleep entirely after entering certain areas. That means no Twitter, no Facebook, no calling, no texting.