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Apple Patents Polluting Facebook, Google Profiles 142

Posted by timothy
from the why-all-your-friends-have-crazy-aliases dept.
theodp writes "On Tuesday, the USPTO granted Apple an odd patent on Techniques to Pollute Electronic Profiling, which presumably might concern the targeted ad revenue-hungry folks at Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn (and their investors). The patent, apparently assigned to Apple from Novell, is designed to thwart 'dataveillance techniques from automated Litter Brothers,' including lawful targeted and aggressive marketing tactics. Creating cloned identities that are 'intentionally populated with divergent information [e,g., fake phone numbers, email accounts, credit or debit card accounts],' explains the patent, 'circumvents the reliability and usefulness of dataveillance used by network eavesdroppers and effectively provides greater privacy over the network to principals.'"
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Apple Patents Polluting Facebook, Google Profiles

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  • So Apple (Score:5, Funny)

    by MitchDev (2526834) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:10AM (#40369523)
    has a patent for lying and fooling people?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      And they're terrorists! Who else would want to evade profiling?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not just people, "revenue-hungry folks at Google, Facebook, and LinkedIn (and investors)." I do this all the time when I'm required to manually enter data into a survey.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dav1dc (2662425)
        Does that mean every time someone fills in an online form using bullsh!t information; said person is now obliged to pay Apple a royalty?!?! :p
        • That is the same thing I was thinking. I 9and most of the IT people I know) have a few throw away email accounts. Those accounts have totally made up names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. So now can Apple sue every non real online ID?

          Could anonymous be made null and void next?

          • by daremonai (859175)

            So now can Apple sue every non real online ID?

            APPLE, INC.. Plaintiff,

            v.

            HUGH JAZZ, MIKE HUNT, HOWIE FELTERSNATCH, LOU BITGOOD et al., Defendants.

            Plaintiff Apple Inc., ("Apple") by and through its undersigned counsel, for its Complaint against Defendants Hugh Jazz, Mike Hunt, Howie Feltersnatch, Lou Bitgood et al. ("Ha Ha You're So Funny") alleges as follows:

        • Nope. Claim 1 is the sole independent claim, and begins with "A device-implemented method..."; no alternative embodiments are claimed there. All of the other claims are dependent upon claim 1. Infringement can only be asserted against what is delineated in the claims.

          Humans are not (yet) devices, so direct human acts cannot infringe.

          • I guess any piece of software that might make generating such divergent personas easier for a human being would be at risk though.

    • Re:So Apple (Score:5, Funny)

      by dc29A (636871) * on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:18AM (#40369629)

      I claim prior art circa 1996. My real name is not Pig Benis. I don't live in Fucking, Austria neither.

    • Re:So Apple (Score:5, Insightful)

      by imagined.by (2589739) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:20AM (#40369641)

      Apple has a patent to fool bots that aggregate people's data.

      Interesting how even this can be spun to something negative.

      • by vlm (69642)

        Apple has a patent to fool bots that aggregate people's data.

        Interesting how even this can be spun to something negative.

        The negative part is I've been doing this since the very early 90s, offline and online, and now its patented, so I guess I owe APPL every time I do this, or I can't do it anymore?

        • by icebike (68054) *

          The negative part is I've been doing this since the very early 90s, offline and online, and now its patented,

          You had me fooled.
          Here I thought all this time your parents had a weird sens of humor giving you a three letter name with no vowels,
          only to find out that VLM is not your real name!

      • Interesting how even this can be spun into something positive. Unless you are are a company, that despite US law, does not equal a human being.

      • by macs4all (973270)

        Apple has a patent to fool bots that aggregate people's data.

        Interesting how even this can be spun to something negative.

        I was wondering how many posts I'd have to read before someone did exactly that.

        It was four.

    • has a patent for lying and fooling people?

      Don't be silly. They're just claiming that they have.

    • Now Apple has finally done something cool with their patent trolling. I want to buy that app as long as it doesn't cost more than $1 on Google Play.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:13AM (#40369557)

    So yesterday, we see how Steve Jobs wanted all of Google's products to be integrated with Google+, presumably so that they could make things more relevant through social interactions. Then today comes the Apple patent for polluting a social profile and making that information useless. I guess his strategy of "going thermonuclear war" is still alive...

    • Re:Makes Sense Now (Score:5, Insightful)

      by localman57 (1340533) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:16AM (#40369585)
      I don't think so. It sounds more like a MacroVision strategy. Come up with a scheme you want to carry out. Then envision all possible anti-scheme methods, and patent them when you patent your original scheme. That way no one can anti-scheme your scheme.
      • So all I need to do is come up with all the possible inventions of criminal masterminds. Then patent them.

        So no taking over the world with a ... oh fuck it, I was going so well and then I realised I never did like those marvel comics with their super heros and their criminal masterminds...

      • I dunno, Apple doesn't really make much money from advertising. They make it from actual products. Google and Facebook on the other hand are both marketing companies, this is a weird one alright.

    • by BitZtream (692029)

      Except Apple didn't patent it. Novell did. Apple bought the patent.

      Neither the poster or editor (duh, its timothy) have any idea how patents work I guess.

      • Was talking to a patent lawyer today. Yes I did wash my hands afterwards. Anyway he tells me that in theory ANYONE who uses something that has been patented, whether they knew it was patented or not (i.e. just wrote a program to do the bleeding obvious) is potentially infringing in said patent.

        With 7 billion people on the planet, I think we all need to raise the bar on what constitutes unique. As part of my job recently I have examined loads of patents recently a particular area, and they are all quite simi

        • by samkass (174571)

          I think you misunderstand the patent office. In modern times, they basically act as a registry for assertions people claim are novel. Unless something is really, really obvious they'll go ahead and file the patent. Whether the inventions actually are novel or not is largely determined by court filings and later re-examinations. It's this aspect of the current patent system that bothers me the most. I have no problem with software being patented, because I think it's an expressive form of communication

          • You missed the part where a patent is examined by patent office for similar patents. At least in Australia. The work I am working on came up with three, all of which I consider to be as obvious as the patent that I am working on - I didn't make the call to get it patented by the way.

            My biggest problem with patents is that in theory I can be sued for damages for creating software that infringes on a patent that I have never heard of. To me this a fundamental breach of my liberty and is patently absurd. What

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taikiNO@SPAMcox.net> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:14AM (#40369571)

    Makes me wonder if this is evil or good.

    Evil because it's fucking with Google. This is squarely a jab to google's breadbasket. If WWDC wasn't a big "fuck you" to google, this certainly is.

    Good because this is anonymity to the next level. Defeating snooping from big business to try to sell us shit we don't need.

    Evil though because this idea should belong to everyone.

    TBH, I'm surprised the EFF didn't figure this one out sooner.

    • by mcmonkey (96054) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:17AM (#40369619) Homepage

      Evil because it's fucking with Google.

      Why is fucking with Google evil?

      And can someone please translate "dataveillance techniques from automated Litter Brothers" to English?

      • Why is fucking with Google evil?

        And can someone please translate "dataveillance techniques from automated Litter Brothers" to English?

        Because people still believe that Google honour the 'do no evil' mantra and thus that Google must be inherently Good.

        Dataveillance = Surveillance of Data. Litter Brothers I have no idea about.

        • by EasyTarget (43516) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:35AM (#40369821) Journal

          While Google undoubtedly does some evil, the good they do outweighs it in my opinion.

          I was reading their privacy/censorship report yesterday and thinking how nice it would be if Apple, FB, MS, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. all did the same.

          Indeed, on the same day that Google was publicising and enumerating how much governments intrude on Privacy; the US government was refusing to say, even in broad numbers, how many US citizens enjoyed a NSA snoop session recently.

          • How do I apply for an NSA snoop session? Someone said that all I need do is post words like the following: (quiche? Really? WTF?)

            Rewson, SAFE, Waihopai, INFOSEC, ASPIC, MI6, Information Security, SAI, Information Warfare, IW, IS, Privacy, Information Terrorism, Terrorism
            Defensive Information, Defense Information Warfare, Offensive Information, Offensive Information Warfare, The Artful Dodger, NAIA, SAPM, ASU, ASTS,
            National Information Infrastructure, InfoSec, SAO, Reno, Compsec, JICS,
            Computer Terrorism,

        • by wjousts (1529427)

          Litter Brothers I have no idea about.

          I'm going to wildly guess it was supposed to say little brothers, which I assume is rather than the big brother of one large organization (generally the government) monitoring people, you have lots of smaller organizations (Facebook, Google, numerous internet advertising networks) monitoring people.

        • by mjr167 (2477430)
          We totally needed to make a new word for data mining...
          • Learn German. They have a habit of combining words. Or just use Wearedataminingstuff until it enters the dictionary.

      • by twocows (1216842)
        Because Google, while often treading the line on the "privacy" factor, does a lot of good things for the tech community and even the open source community.
        • by jo_ham (604554) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (999mahoj)> on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:40AM (#40369875)

          So does Apple. So do many companies. It doesn't give either Apple nor Google a free pass when they do something unpleasant though.

        • The Nazi's medical experimentation policies did great things for medical science.

          Good results from bad people doing bad things doesn't make the methodology, or the people, any better.

          Quirk's Exception.
          • Or worse for that matter.

            WW2 brought many advances. Jet engines, radar, cryptography, rockets, atomic power. The demise of European empires.

            Which in turn lead to the world we live in. Cheap air fares, safe air travel, the internet (which would be hampered without cryptography), satellites, nuclear power, the embryonic colonisation of space, and independent states.

            However much one may despise the WW2 Germans, and not all of them were Nazis by a long way, the era was a massive period of technological advance,

          • This. The dissociative used by some surgeons (like my dad) was developed in the concentration camps as a truth serum. It puts you into a twilight where you can respond to questions, but are completely unaware of what you are saying. When it wears off, you remember NOTHING. I know this because I went under for surgery using that drug. Apparently I kept trying to talk during the surgery (on my jaw) so I had these 2 bruises from where they were having to hold my mouth open. At any rate, FANTASTIC stuff.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Google is a marketing company. That so many traditionally anti-marketing techies don't grasp this just means they are a very good marketing company.

          • Thank you,

            I always find it amusing that people using Google services to the nines talk about Apple's reality distortion field.

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/technology/acxiom-the-quiet-giant-of-consumer-database-marketing.html?_r=1 [nytimes.com]
        An easy read about what you can do with 50 trillion data “transactions” a year.
      • Because I don't know if Apple has the responsibility to wield that weapon. I nominally think flamethrowers are a useful tool for the military or civil service(or some other generally "good" entity that has a nominally good reason to set things on fire).

        If Apple bought some flamethrowers, I'd want to know what's up.

      • by bnyrbl (1014257)
        Surveillance of Data, and I think Litter Brothers in reference to the automated bots is a typo and they meant lots of "Little Brothers" as opposed to Big Brother.
      • by wjousts (1529427)

        From the patent:

        Concerns about the government and its knowledge about its citizenry is often referred to in a derogatory sense as actions of "Big Brother" who is omnipresent and gathering information to use to its advantage when needed. The electronic age has given rise to what is now known as thousands of "Little Brothers," who perform Internet surveillance by collecting information to form electronic profiles about a user not through human eyes or through the lens of a camera but through data collection.

    • by bmacs27 (1314285)
      I'm not sure if it provides anonymity, or if it just restricts profitable dataveillance to Apple.
    • by Daetrin (576516)

      TBH, I'm surprised the EFF didn't figure this one out sooner.

      Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie has some pretty convincing prior art. [youtube.com] Of course they're far from the only ones, but they're probably the most amusing.

    • Let's stay on topic - this was not obvious to a technical skilled in the art of internet identity obfuscation?

    • It is easy. Software patent = evil. I challenge anyone on ./ to come up with anything software-wise unique that is really worthy of protection for 25 years.

      In fact forget the software-wise. To me something worthy of a patent that lasts n years should not be obvious for that n years.

      Which is why all patents are bullshit. Just like all other IP.

  • Just in time (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AHuxley (892839)
    Facebook buys a facial recognition system.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-18506255 [bbc.co.uk]
  • I have been doing this for over a decade. I claim Prior Art.

    • Don't you remember, we're not a first to invent country anymore, we're first to file [slashdot.org] . They filed first, so they're right. To be honest, I never followed up on this, did it get signed into law?
      • by blueg3 (192743)

        Except that that's not how first-to-file works.

      • Don't you remember, we're not a first to invent country anymore, we're first to file [slashdot.org] . They filed first, so they're right. To be honest, I never followed up on this, did it get signed into law?

        Yes, but it has nothing to do with what you think. All it does away with is the very rare (20 per year, compared to over 10,000 patent applications) interference situation where two completely separate inventors file for a patent on the same exact invention simultaneously. Previously, there was a long, expensive fight while a court figured out which one invented first, using lab notebooks, witness testimony, etc. Now, it's whichever one got to the patent office first. That's it. Prior art is still prior art

    • by Nyder (754090)

      I have been doing this for over a decade. I claim Prior Art.

      yes, but they added "with a device" on it. That makes it a new thing, really.

  • I guess the idea is that if there are patents, then Friends of Privacy is delayed for 20 years. Sorry, Vernor, but it'll happen some day. That's why you write about the future, because patents mean the next 20 years always has to suck.

    The founders were clever to put that into the constitution:

    Congreff shall have the power .. to retard the Progress of Science and delay the useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to patent trolls the exclusive Right to prevent the proliferation of technology

    • by blueg3 (192743)

      It's not "Congreff", it's "Congress". The style of writing they used had a medial "s" that looks similar to, but is not, an "f". Our style of writing does not, so the same text rendered into modern type has neither the letter "f" nor the medial "s". On top of that, they used a final "s" that is the same as our modern "s" -- so the medial "s" character should never appear at the end of the word.

  • by DesertBlade (741219) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:22AM (#40369661)
    Skimmed through the patent and all I can figure out is that our master profile stays the same, but you will have a bunch of fake ones. This does not give you a whole lot of privacy to the user since you are still tied to the master, but makes it harder for facebook/google to created targeted ads and make it harder for someone to find the real you. Unless you are actively using all these clones then Big Brother is going to know who you are. Next there will be a patent to filter out these clones.
  • About 15 years ago I wrote a script for populating "phishing" forms with plausible-but-fake names, addresses and credit card numbers that pass simple validation checks. I can't remember what I called it, possibly "phishfood" or "phishfarm". It's probably still on sourceforge.

    • by Lehk228 (705449)
      That could be advanced with cooperation from VISA, rather than using numerically valid but nonsense numbers, use toxic numbers and names so VISA can track which processors these payments are posted through and crack some skulls
      • by Gordonjcp (186804)

        That's an interesting idea. You'd need a large corpus of toxic numbers, though, and you'd need to keep them secret from the phishers.

        One trick you could use would be for the phishfarmer to collude with a bank to generate not just fake-but-valid credit card numbers but also a toxic CVV2 by using a bogus CVV2 encryption key on the generated "card number". A transaction processed with a generated number and a toxic CVV2 would be detectable by checking to see if an invalid CVV2 decrypted with one of the "phis

  • by Bigby (659157) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:27AM (#40369733)

    Wasn't there prior art in Sun Tzu's Art of War? This is only deception done on a network instead of a battlefield...

  • Prior Art. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EasyTarget (43516) on Tuesday June 19, 2012 @10:27AM (#40369735) Journal

    I've been doing this for 15 years now, ever since my first spam email lured me to my first spam site.
    I own several domains and give different emails; faked whenever I don't care if I never hear from the admen again.
    I invent (fictitious, but coherent) persona's for myself when answering marketeers dumb questions. I regularly complete 'Can we tediously interrupt you to gather marketing info' wonkery with entirely faked data. If I care about a website, or think a company is treating me properly, then I help them help me by being broadly honest, all others get systematically and deliberately misinformed.

    My 2 point plan; which I heartily recommend:
    1) Reward honesty with honesty,
    2) Reward spin with spin.

    And if any marketeers read this, hahaha, spin on it.

    (PS: I know, from colleagues and friends, that I am not alone in doing this.)

    • Funny because on all online forms I am Bill Gates or Steve Jobs and I always live on Elm Street, 1 Infinity Loop or some other nonsense like that. Oh and I'm 122 years old, go big.. be an outlier.
      • by gman003 (1693318)

        go big.. be an outlier.

        Indeed!

        I, for instance, am an ordained minister in Norse Paganism (Reformed), a registered card-carrying Communist, a decorated veteran of the Third Punic War, the true heir to the throne of Emperor Norton I, and the true assassin of Archduke Ferdinand (you'd be surprised the kind of questions telemarketers ask!).

        I also brought the sexy back, but nobody's asked that yet, unfortunately.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If you have enough evidence from a person then only extreme amounts of noise will prevent you from identifying that person.

    http://www.almaden.ibm.com/cs/people/vitaly/papers/Kearns93-e.pdf (Statistical Query Learning (1993; Kearns)

  • Not only have I actively used such techniques - such as my "Famous Dictators and Cruel Leaders" series and the ever popular "Dead Little KnownPresidents" series when signing up for affinity cards and websites; I have also written about it. Yes, I am the reason Attila T. Hun is in your database, as well as a Mr. A Shickelgruber who resides at T. Bunker, Berlin. Please call me at 202-555-1212 to discuss this.
  • Being intrigued by the summary, and naturally reluctant to RTFA, I tried to find out what an "Automated Litter Brother" is. Best I could come up with is something from the same litter as an other automaton, or some kind of automaton that litters.
    • by JTsyo (1338447)
      When a daddy machine and mommy machine love each other so much, they set up a factory that builds baby machines. Machines built at the factory come in lots, we'll refer to them as a litter. It seems Apple as found a way to fool male machines from the same litter when they try to collect data. It remains unclear if it would work for machines from different litters.
    • Being intrigued by the summary, and naturally reluctant to RTFA, I tried to find out what an "Automated Litter Brother" is. Best I could come up with is something from the same litter as an other automaton, or some kind of automaton that litters.

      From the background: Concerns about the government and its knowledge about its citizenry is often referred to in a derogatory sense as actions of "Big Brother" who is omnipresent and gathering information to use to its advantage when needed. The electronic age has given rise to what is now known as thousands of "Little Brothers," who perform Internet surveillance by collecting information to form electronic profiles about a user not through human eyes or through the lens of a camera but through data collect

  • Die in a fire.
  • When these seemingly-weird patents come out, why does someone always assume they're meant to be used? I'm betting that Apple wants the legal clout to prevent other companies from using the techniques they've patented, even if they don't want to use them themselves. For example, suppose you were granted a watertight patent on spamming. That might be a nice tool to beat spammers up with in court: "hey, judge, they're violating my government-granted monopoly on the techniques I described! I offered to license

    • by gl4ss (559668)

      technically, if they didn't have an implementation, they shouldn't get the patent..

      • First, to clarify: I'm 100% opposed to software patents. I'm not saying I think Apple should be patenting things like this for the reasons I gave, merely that they might be.

        That out of the way, it should be easy enough to implement this patent for demonstration purposes and then permanently shelve it.

    • Prior art, see my comment from June 12: http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2909133&cid=40294085 [slashdot.org]

      Even if they did read Slashdot (which many of the Examiners do), that quote of yours doesn't tell anyone how to inject noise, nor does it teach or suggest each and every element of the claims. It's what's called non-enabling prior art, and is only prior art for what it teaches. For example, H.G. Wells' Time Machine is anticipatory prior art if someone wanted to claim "1. A device comprising a machine for traveling through time," but that's it. As soon as they start getting into the implementation, the fact

  • I had an idea like this once for responding to phishing e-mails. A phishing URL would be submitted and a fake identity would be created using a database of first names, last names, street names, cities, states, zip codes, etc. A phoney (but real looking) SNN and date of birth would be created as well as any other information. The form would be submitted and the fake identity would be stored in the phisher's database. Repeat this a few thousand times and the database's value would drop. Get enough peopl

    • by Stavr0 (35032)

      I had an idea like this once for responding to phishing e-mails. A phishing URL would be submitted and a fake identity would be created using a database of first names, last names, street names, cities, states, zip codes, etc. A phoney (but real looking) SNN and date of birth would be created as well as any other information. The form would be submitted and the fake identity would be stored in the phisher's database. Repeat this a few thousand times and the database's value would drop. Get enough people using this program and submitting phishing URLs and phishing in general would get harder to do successfully.

      Sadly, I never implemented this idea so it can't be claimed as prior art.

      AA419 had similar programs (Muguito, Lad Vampire) to "flash mob" scam sites and DDOS them into exceeding their bandwidth quotas. There was also some tools to fake-fill web forms as you mentioned above.

  • "circumvents the reliability and usefulness of dataveillance used by network eavesdroppers and effectively provides greater privacy over the network to principals"
    so it will be harder for facebook target ads based on the sites i've visited? (not that I use FB)

    Facebook Exchange
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/18/tech/social-media/facebook-ads-web-browsing/index.html [cnn.com]

    A new Facebook system will use your activity on other websites to send you what Facebook thinks are ads about your current interests. Advertisers will,

  • It seems to me that if you can detect these cloned entities the patent describes you will be able to find out a lot more about the individual, since all the information associated with the clones is all but guaranteed to be false. If clone A says "I like cats" then original probably doesn't like cats. Negative information is still information.
  • Apple will still have to pay me royalties because I have lodged a patents for "Using patents to gouge", "Getting patents despite prior art by using jargon that patent officers don't understand" and "Making things white and shiny so dumbasses will like them"
  • Do you have any idea who I *am*.

    Exactly. And I've been doing that since you clowns thought a 5 meg drive on a IIe was a big deal.

    kthxbai

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