Gear | June 30, 2016 9:00 am

Apple Just Won a Patent That Could Threaten Your Freedom of Speech

Camera-blocking technology has benefits, but at what expense?

We all hate viewing concerts through the screen of the iPhone in front of us.

But that doesn’t mean Apple’s creepy new Big Brother technology — coming the same week that they’re not playing nice with competitors — is the solution we wanted.

After a five-year battle, the tech giant just received a patent on a camera disabling technology that reacts to infrared emitters in places where pictures and videos are prohibited — like concerts and museums — and generates a signal with encoded commands to disable your phone’s recording functions.

Good news: No more would-be videographers killing the collective vibe at concerts/gallery openings/performances/etc.

But what about the potentially “evil” consequences of this technology? Intentions aside, there’s no way to limit the technology’s use to the artistic realm. What happens if the same emitters are placed in police cars, or at protests? Those use cases raise concerns about the limits these camera blocker could place on freedom of speech.

And, as Billboard points out, this is another way tech companies are trying to link the digital and physical worlds. “It’s part of a series of related patents,” says David Wendell Phillips, Of Counsel at O&A, P.C. He warns that both Apple and Google are developing more technology that uses location-based data to interact with your phone within defined areas.

Given the public’s polarized reaction, it will probably be a while before Apple goes forward with implementation.

Guess that phone guy in front of you isn’t so bad after all.