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Tim Pool

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A patent granted to Apple in late-August allows governments to disable iPhones and other smartphones, targeting specific apps even, when they enter what is deemed a "sensitive" area.

U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902, titled "Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device," enables phone policies to be set to change "one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device ... upon the occurrence of a certain event."

Camera? Off. Voice recorder? Off. No calls out, no calls in. Total blackout; or, for an event like a concert, the organizers could target specifically just recording functions of a user's phone.

Zach Whittaker of ZDnet points out that "although Apple may implement the technology ... it would be down to governments, businesses and network owners to set such policies."

The policies would be activated primarily by GPS and would create a perimeter around a sensitive area–like a building, protest or riot— to prevent users from taking pictures or recording, video, prevent "wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices" and force devices into "sleep mode," according to the patent. 

The patent notes that "Covert police or government operations may require complete "blackout" conditions" — which essentially gives police a "kill switch" they can flip prior to conducting an operations.

This may seem cool for military purposes abroad, against America's enemies, but domestic applications have other implications — like stifling a successful protest.

Here's Tim Pool—who has live-streamed the recent protests in Spain as well as those of Occupy Wall Street—explaining the implications of the patent.

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When Alex Arbuckle covered the Occupy Wall Street protests, he decided to show a straightforward view of the police. Instead, he found himself arrested. A few days ago, he was vindicated.

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