theatlantic | Even in the Photoshop age, photos and videos can win the public’s trust in a way that a story or an eyewitness account can’t. More than 500 people have been shot and killed by police so far this year, but it’s those whose final encounters with police were caught on tape—and occasionally their photographers—who go on to occupy national headlines. As my colleague Rob points out, for Americans whose experiences with police are generally characterized by respect and civility, there’s something fundamentally unsettling to seeing, with their own eyes, an officer commit an extraordinary act of violence.
Apple filed for the patent in 2011, proposing a smartphone camera that could respond to data streams encoded in invisible infrared signals. The signals could display additional information on the phone’s screen: If a user points his or her camera at a museum exhibit, for example, a transmitter placed nearby could tell the phone to show information about the object in the viewfinder.
A different type of data stream, however, could prevent the phone from recording at all. Apple’s patent also proposes using infrared rays to force iPhone cameras to shut off at concerts, where video, photo, and audio recording is often prohibited. Yes, smartphones are the scourge of the modern concert, but using remote camera-blocking technology to curb their use opens up a dangerous potential for abuse.