Sounds a bit Orwellian, doesn’t it? The idea that some corporate entity can monitor the applications installed on your iPhone and remotely disable blacklisted apps just seems wrong. But, newly discovered code within the iPhone 2.0 OS and the newer iPhone 2.0.1 OS has confirmed that Apple has built a blacklisting mechanism in to the iPhone.
The “phone home” feature essentially allows the iPhone or, running newer iPhone OS versions, to connect to Apple’s servers (at https://iphone-services.apple.com/clbl/unauthorizedApps) and check for blacklisted applications on the iPhone. Upon finding these blacklisted, or unauthorized, apps, Apple can remotely disable the applications, rendering them useless to the iPhone user.
The feature was uncovered by iPhone developer extraordinaire Jonathan Zdiarski. Says Zdiarski:
“This suggests that the iPhone calls home once in a while to find out what applications it should turn off. 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.
“I discovered this doing a forensic examination of an iPhone 3G. It appears to be tucked away in a configuration file deep inside CoreLocation.”
The discovery of a remote application disabling feature is disturbing, but Apple’s motivation is likely to keep malicious and unstable applications from rolling through the global iPhone fleet and doing massive damage. It’s unclear if Apple can check for and disable third-party applications installed via jailbreak solutions.
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