More security, less privacy

Kinkoo-iphone-eye-system-securityThere are all sorts of research in progress aimed at seamlessly turning our device into a personal assistant that provides us “just the right information at just the right time.” The new Apple patent hints at a future where phones will learn our behaviour and habits, essentially building a complete profile of us.

Now we are part of a society where our phones know where we are, where we live and potentially a whole lot more depending on how we use them, such as where we shop and what we buy. But the patent, published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and spotted by Apple Insider, details a system which monitors user’s behaviour, covering everything from location and input gesture patterns to grammar, vocabulary and preferences, such as which orientation you tend to use the keyboard in. Theoretically, it could even gather information from motion sensor data, for example using the accelerometer to keep track of the speed and manner in which you tend to walk.

And, finally, is it good or bad for us?

There’s also a point to all this of course, the system is designed to add an extra layer of security to your iPhone, with a system in place whereby it would lock itself or send a warning to another device if it spotted a lot of unusual behaviour. The theory being that if it was operated in a way that deviated too much from your usual patterns it could be someone else using it.

But on the other hand, it also brings up security and privacy concerns. There is good reason to worry that how much data is routinely gathered on us. What if it fell into the wrong hands? And even if it stayed with Apple do we really want a company to know this much about us? If the system ever was rolled out, we’d better hope that the system is optional and has controls to limit which data could be gathered.