iPhone app blacklist confirmed

August 12, 2008 // 8:55 a.m.

Tags: #blacklist #core-location #cracker #hacker #iphone

Confirmation as to the existence of a 'kill-switch' feature hidden in the iPhone which allows Apple to remotely disable applications it deems malicious has come from the very top – Steve Jobs himself.

Spotted by CNet's Jonathan Skillings, the admission comes at the bottom of a Wall Street Journal article detailing the phenomenal success of the App Store's first month in business. In the article, Jobs describes the creation of the kill-switch as “high minded,” saying that he hopes “we never have to pull that lever” that would disable select applications installed on any iPhone, but says that it would be “irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull.

The confirmation as to the existence and intent of the hidden feature – located in the Core Location API, an out-of-the-way place for a simple script to download a file from an Apple webserver containing, at the moment, dummy records indicating a fake application that should be blacklisted – will help to quell the rumours as to the intent of the blacklist. Many had worried that the tool would be used to disable access to any third-party software that wasn't installed via the official App Store, but it appears that Apple is merely planning to protect its users against the possibility of malicious applications being distributed.

Jobs comments also give lie to the rumour that the blacklist existed solely to prevent malicious applications from gaining access to location information provided by the API in which the kill-switch functionality hides – it's clear that this really is a push-to-ban automatic app killer which will prevent listed applications from ever running on an iPhone.

How long it will take the erstwhile iPhone hackers to disable the disabler remains to be seen – as it stands, all iPhones are affected by the blacklist whether 'jailbroken' or not.

Are you hoping to disable the blacklist in your iPhone, or do you trust Apple to only use the feature for good and not for increasing profit margins? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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