A mobile applications development author has discovered functionality in iPhone 2.0 software that would allow Apple to blacklist and remotely disable iPhone applications on users’ phones. While the company already retains control over third-party iPhone apps through its certificate signing program, this more targeted system gives Apple the ability to kill specific applications and effectively places all iPhones under potential surveillance as long as they have an active internet connection.
iPhone 2.0 (as well as the updated iPod touch firmware) uses its CoreLocation framework to point to a secure website that appears to contain at least placeholder code for a list of “unauthorized” apps, according to iPhone Open Application Development author Jonathan Zdziarksi.
“This suggests that the iPhone calls home once in a while to find out what applications it should turn off,” he says. “At the moment, no apps have been blacklisted, but by all appearances, this has been added to disable applications that the user has already downloaded and paid for, if Apple so chooses to shut them down.”