Big Apple is watching you: iPhone kill switch incoming?

Apple has filed a patent for a kill-switch like application that could see the the Cupertino based giant given far more power than a tech company should really have.

The app, entitled “Systems and Methods for Identifying Unauthorized Users of an Electronic Device” give Apple the ability to protect users from thieves by "surreptitiously activating the iPhone's camera, geotagging the image and uploading it to a server and transmitting sensitive data to a server and then wiping it from the device".

We at Pocket-lint are a tad concerned by this measure though. Sure it's nice that Apple wants to protect us, but do we really want the chaps from Cupertino having access to fire up our iPhone cameras whenever they see fit?

After all, regular listeners to the Pocket-lint podcast will know that we enjoy a bit of mobile browsing whilst, erm, sitting on the throne.

Another concern is that the patent states:

"An activity that can detect an unauthorized user can be any action that may indicate the electronic device is being tampered with by being, for example, hacked, jailbroken, or unlocked.

"For example, a sudden increase in memory usage of the electronic device can indicate that a hacking program is being run and that an unauthorized user may be using the electronic device.

"Jailbreaking of an electronic device can generally refer to tampering with the device to allow a user to gain access to digital resources that are normally hidden and protected from users".

"Unlocking of a cellular phone can generally refer to removing a restriction that 'locks' a cellular phone so it may only be used in specific countries or with specific network providers. Thus, in some embodiments, an unauthorized user can be detected if it is determined that the electronic device is being jailbroken or unlocked".

This kind of hints (well, more than kind of actually) that Apple would block any iPhone that looks as if it is jailbroken. Bad news for the Cydia-club.

The patent also mentions voice-printing of the owner, accelerometer detection of crooks in transit and even a heartbeat sensor.

It all seems a bit over the top to us, after all if you're really that concerned about your iPhone falling into the wrong hands then why not make use of Apple's Find My Phone application within MobileMe?

Sure, the subscription costs will set you back a few quid each year, but at least you won't be susceptible to Jobs and the gang looking at you through your camera with your trousers around your ankles.

A step to far from Apple? Let us know what you think using the comments below.