What you may not know is that Apple has a way to prevent you from using an application that you paid for and used. That means Apple can prevent a select app from running on your iPhone or iPad if the company so chooses. Here’s the problem.
Apple’s Hidden Blacklist
News of Apple’s so-called app blacklist came about through a lawsuit in Brazil where a judge ordered that Apple stop selling the App secret, and delete it from all iPhone users in Brazil.
The details of the court case and order are subject to translation issues, but it brought to light Apple’s ability to disable by remote control an app you’ve installed on your iPhone.
News reports point out that Brazil’s constitution prohibits anonymous freedom of expression, and the Secret app on the iPhone lets users say anything they want, anonymously.
Google has a similar ‘remote delete’ feature which has been used a few times. There’s no record of Apple using the same function.
Here’s what happens.
Your iPhone phones home to Apple’s servers and obtains a list of verified application certificates. If an app installed on your iPhone is on the blacklist, that means the certificate is revoked, and the app won’t launch.
Apple has removed troublesome apps from the App Store, but leaves the certificate intact on a user’s iPhone, so the app can still be used.
What bothers me in this situation isn’t that the iPhone has a remote wipe capability built-in. That has the benefit of protecting user data from thieves. Apple also reserves for itself the option to disable applications remotely– apps you’ve bought and paid for and may use– without asking you first.