Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Don't Own Me

In my view, Lesley Gore's best song ever is "You Don't Own Me" - better than "It's My Party" or "Judy's Turn to Cry" or "Judy Took Out a Restraining Order" or whatever. Although originally intended to be a song about a woman asserting herself with regards to a man, it could also be applied to the hippie peace-sign-waving faction who is resisting the Corporate State, or the world envisioned in George Orwell's 1984.

Which brings us to Apple. Alan Reiter noted that Apple has filed a patent application entitled SYSTEMS AND METHODS FOR IDENTIFYING UNAUTHORIZED USERS OF AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE. (Bold italics in the original title, and throughout the patent application.)

So, how do you become an unauthorized user of an electronic device? Simple. Take a device that you don't own and use it without the owner's permission.

Obviously this applies if you own a device and I find it in a bar and pick it up. But it also applies if an Internet Service Provider owns a device and I use it without paying my bill...or after calling the president of the ISP a nasty name...or do anything that the ISP doesn't like.

I like to pretend to myself that I have taken all appropriate precautions against this problem. When I bought my netbook, I didn't buy it via a special offer from a wireless provider. No, sir - I bought it lock, stock, and barrel from a store.

But this means nothing, since even though I own the hardware device, I use it to access various software services. And if I get locked out of them, then it doesn't matter whether my computer fan is working or not - I won't be able to do anything.

Reiter noted the irony of this entire patent:

In one of the greatest-ever television commercials, Apple introduced the first Macintosh by showing a young woman with a sledgehammer running up to a huge screen where Big Brother is speaking to gray worker drones. The woman throws the hammer into the screen, smashing it. The commercial ends with: "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like '1984.'"...

Apple's patent describes monitoring capabilities that make 1984's telescreen pale in comparison.
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