Irony: FBI Says Apple Letting You Remotely Kill iPhones They've Taken Is 'Big Brother-ish'

from the look-in-the-mirror dept

specialized points us to a report at Wired concerning a released (via the Freedom of Information Act) report from the FBI as it prepares for dealing with smartphones and faster 4G and beyond mobile data networks. Not surprisingly, the FBI is concerned about what this will mean for law enforcement. Not too long ago, we noted that the feds had been sending documents to local police forces, warning them of the ability of iPhone owners to remotely wipe the devices, using a tool designed to deal with thieves. But the FBI instead describes a future possible addition to this — using voice or facial recognition characteristics to activate this — as “Big Brotherish” (you can see it on page 79 of the embedded document below):

In a move that seems Big Brother-ish, Apple has a patent in the works that could use voice and facial recognition technology to activate a “kill switch” on its popular iPhone, shutting it down when hackers “jailbreak” or unlock the phone to install unauthorized programs on it, or try to steal information from an unsuspecting iPhone user.

Apparently the FBI doesn’t quite recognize that “Big Brother” is the government.

And, speaking of “Big Brotherish,” it seems quite concerning that the feds main issue with LTE 4G networks is that since they can send more data through, it means a bigger “firehose” of data to deal with.

One notable impact is that Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) will need to deal with significantly higher data rates than in current wireless network intercepts.

I recognize that they’re just describing the problem, but isn’t this effectively admitting that they get way too much info. If you’re getting a “firehose” of data, you’re doing it wrong (and potentially illegally).

Filed Under: , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Irony: FBI Says Apple Letting You Remotely Kill iPhones They've Taken Is 'Big Brother-ish'”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Jay (profile) says:

The Feds can’t catch as many criminals because they’re sending out more text messages.

The Feds can’t catch as many criminals because they’re safe in their house.

The Feds can’t catch as many criminals because sorting through email on a 3rd party server that they barely need a warrant for is rather difficult.

The Feds can’t catch as many criminals because they’re all locked up already.

No matter how you say it, the Feds making excuses just never sounds right…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

and I’m not kidding either. If you go to the FBI’s website and try to figure out where you can e-mail them or forward an e-mail to them, you must contact the department in your state. Most states either don’t have an e-mail address or if you try to e-mail them, it doesn’t work.

Though, browsing through this, it seems like they finally seem to have more e-mail addresses on there now then before, which is a huge improvement. They’re finally catching up to ten year old technology.

and everyone knows government agencies are the last to ever upgrade their systems. The Y2K bug mostly applied to them, because most private corporations already had software with four digit years by then.

specialized (profile) says:

I found it interesting to skim through the PDF by searching for ?LAW ENFORCEMENT IMPACT?. You start to get a sense at how the FBI intends to leverage consumer technology to their benefit.

For example read about how the FBI is salivating over Microsoft Menlo, which is a new mobile device that can track a “target” when GPS signals are not available. (pgs 66-67)

?this kind of data is terrific for convicting people and terrific at exonerating people. with an activity-based navigation device, Since trail data can be obtained in areas where GPS would not normally be available, the Menlo prototype and the Greenfield app Should these devices become popular and used by targets, they will provide ?

chris says:

Re: Re:

What about the assumptions made that this software will simply work as advertised? If you are being accused by software, you should have a right to “cross-examine” it by reviewing the code. Otherwise, it’s like a court automatically assuming everything a witness say is true. I’m afraid the non-technically minded will think there is no way anything could go wrong.

out_of_the_blue says:

And in other ways, Apple is trying to be "Big Brother" TOO.

As in Apple trying to control the term “app store”. Being Big Brother — meaning surveil as a means to power — is a popular pursuit. That’s why to not let any any organizations grow. The notion of competition doesn’t work in the political realm because all have a common interest in oppressing the people. Increasing the police state works for all who want power; they’ll fight later for who gets control of the police state.

Also, consistency is not a characteristic of gov’ts, so don’t expect FBI to be chagrined over their use of the term.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: And in other ways, Apple is trying to be "Big Brother" TOO.

Weren’t you arguing in favor of oppressively high tax rates in another article so the the pursuit of MONEY would be curtailed? So you’re arguing that government naturally want a police state… and you want them to have more money to do it with? That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The Groove Tiger (profile) says:

Re: Re: And in other ways, Apple is trying to be "Big Brother" TOO.

The pushmi-pullyu (pronounced “push-me?pull-you”) is a “gazelle-unicorn cross” which has two heads (one of each) at opposite ends of its body. When it tries to move, both heads try to go in opposite directions.

FuzzyDuck says:

Re: Double irony

The only distinction between thieves and the FBI stealing your phone, is that the latter can steal it legally. There’s no real difference, you don’t have your phone anymore and it was taken from you against your will. No surprise that a technical measure against theft works against both the illegal and legal variant of theft.

Graham says:

Too much data

As someone who does Computer Forensics (not for Law Enforcement or the Government), I can say that noting the increased data is an issue, and not one of “overreaching”

As hard drive technology gets bigger and bigger, people just leave more and more around and companies don’t need to make their applications or data streamlined, they can just throw everything in there and leave it there and forget.

The same is true for higher bandwidth, if you have a legal wiretap of a suspect in a drug case and you need to monitor their cell phone transmissions to see if they discuss money or meetups. Assume they are going to try and be covert. If your dealing with just a small trickle of voice and web data, you can analyze that data faster and maybe make it to the meet quicker.
If you have to deal with 3 web sessions, a music stream, IM, and voice.. that’s a lot of data and it hard to sift through all of it.

Imagine if a drug dealer who used to live and work out of a 2 bedroom apartment suddenly has the means to live and work out of an entire hotel. Imagine having to go in and search the entire thing for hidden drugs

ohhhhhhhhh says:


@21…why can’t i just grow me some people fully in a lab take out there brains and make em drones for the tax base….YAAAA thats the future
@26 oh you mean the 150 year copyright industry that as we see isnt making YOUR debt issues go away cause all the 1% rich peoples hoard there cash and trickle down economics failed utterly due to the actual abuse of the 9/11 situations?
YUP YOUR right and the key word is TRYING ….its failed already but will out last the pot issues….WHY NOT put the poor in jails and prisons cause they don’t contribute to the tax base right?
@31 and since 2001 wasn’t there something like 31000 violations of law the fbi is accused of doing….X-FILES my ass and its one reason i hate seeing shows with cops in them , especially when they are the good guys, which is so far form the truth.
@32 ask yourself what 200-300 fbi agents are doing in canada when they have NO REAL jurisdiction to arrest or detain anyone…..YOUR PAYING FOR THERE HOLIDAY….

MY take …if the fbi don’t like it has to be decent app.BUT is it?

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...