Posted by: Olga Kharif on August 6, 2008
I just read a report that claims that Apple can remotely disable any app on your iPhone. Scary? You bet. I am having flashbacks to George Orwell’s “1984.”
What I don’t understand is, why Apple needs the capability. Purportedly, it’s to deal with viruses that may jump onto the phones. But the thing is, wireless carriers’ networks catch and disarm viruses already. For years, wireless service providers have been responsible for protecting handsets from attacks, and they’ve done a decent job. And while today’s phones are much smarter and more vulnerable to attacks, carriers’ security has been beefed up as well.
One could argue that Apple needs to be more involved, since the iPhone can also access Wi-Fi networks. But I don’t buy that: For starters, most iPhone users tap into Wi-Fi at home, and their networks are likely to be secured. If you accidentally download a virus over a public hotspot, the next time you log into your wireless carrier’s network, the carrier will isolate and destroy that virus. The only instance when Apple may need to get involved is in the case of customers using their iPhones exclusively on Wi-Fi connections. But I bet the percentage of people like that is quite small.
Apple’s meddling raises a lot of privacy concerns. If Apple can disable your applications, it may also know whom you call, which Web sites you go to, how much time you spend Web browsing. It already knows which applications you download via iTunes. My feeling is, Apple has just opened a whole can of worms.