Good news, everyone! Remember how we never used to have the technology to be able to just automatically disable the photographic capabilities of the cell phones held by everyone in a giant crowd? No longer: Stereogum reports five years of hard paperwork for Apple has finally paid off, and the company has obtained a patent on technology that will disable your phone’s camera when it detects a specific infrared signal. In the time it took you to read that sentence, you probably also had the three seconds of reflection time it would take a reasonable person to think, “Oh, that sounds extremely problematic.” As you’re starting to turn over the implications in your mind, let the patent itself explain how it will function to eliminate the possibility of filming events that explicitly prohibit such personal recording.
For example, an infrared emitter can be located in areas where picture or video capture is prohibited, and the emitter can generate infrared signals with encoded data that includes commands to disable the recording functions of devices. An electronic device can then receive the infrared signals, decode the data and temporarily disable the device’s recording function based on the command.
Right about now, evil corporations, police departments, third-world militias, and other assembled personages that prefer to operate without public scrutiny are high-fiving themselves into a lather, and you’ve likely already sussed out the reason. As Stereogum notes, the second this infrared tech moves off a concert stage and into, say, a police car, or security at a protest, or any number of other areas where monitoring those in power is an essential method for preservation of rights and/or liberty, this power becomes evil. Super-evil, really, as it shuts down one of the few recourses average citizens have for challenging authority—namely, a record of events. “Take that, future Zapruders,” says the ghost of the second gunman on the grassy knoll. But hey, at least that annoying guy standing right in front of you at the Katy Perry show can’t block your view with his upraised cell any more! Freedom!