Apple is developing anti-snitch technology to prevent police from tracking the locations of mobile phone users or reading their messages. The titan of smartphones and technology has patented a method to encrypt signals sent between mobile towers and phones of end-users, guarding them against authorities.
According to Telegraph report, this innovation, which would restrain the use of so-called ‘ Stingray ‘ boxes that act as phone masts which are used to track the locations of users or listen in to their calls by authorities.
Police forces in the UK use Stingrays, also known as IMSI catchers, but the scope of their use has not been disclosed. The gadgets deceive mobile phones in connecting them by acting as mobile phone towers. They can then identify the location of a phone and monitor the calls or read messages.
Their use is controversial because they collect data from thousands of other devices at the same time whilst targeting suspect phones, which could be seen as a privacy invasion.
Hackers might also use Stingrays to hoover public data. Apple’s patent proposal would apply end-to-end encryption as it travels across a network to the unique ID of a phone.
The ID, known as a mobile subscriber identification number, would be scrambled under the encryption and a device would apparently be shielded against eavesdropping. The encryption would not, however, mask the content of messages, but would still make it much more challenging to trace the device.
Privacy activists are expected to welcome the technology if it is developed, although police and security authorities have said encryption enables terrorists to plot attacks and allow criminals to avoid detection. It is still unclear whether the new patent from Apple, which was registered in 2017 and published in February, will be used in forthcoming technology.