Apple recently got approval for a patent for a new technology that will help protect users from data collection efforts being done by businesses, the government and, most especially, cybercriminals.
The new patent, which was discovered by Patently Apple, was released last Tuesday by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The patent describes a system that will clone user identities, then automatically insert fake details into the clones. The aim is to create a hodge podge of information that will, in essence, confuse data collectors with false data. Apple describes this security process as “polluting electronic profiling.”
The exact wording of the patent is “A cloned identity is created for a principal [i.e. a user]. Areas of interest are assigned to the cloned identity, where a number of the areas of interest are divergent from true interests of the principal. One or more actions are automatically processed in response to the assigned areas of interest. The actions appear to network eavesdroppers to be associated with the principal and not with the cloned identity.”
Filing for the patent is pretty obvious from the description given above. It is a very different kind of strategy in dealing with online privacy threats. Instead of the usual tactic of taking steps to hide your identity online, Apple’s new tactic is to bombard people who want to get your identity with a lot of electronic feedback and noise in the form of cloned, fake details that they will have to sort through. Data collection is encouraged and not prevented with the end goal of actually polluting the information gathering with a lot of useless information.
The big question is how Apple plans to use this patent. What do you think? Will Apple release a product that will incorporate this technology, or release it as a stand-alone solution that it will sell to users?