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Apple wins patent that will clone your online identity

Apple recently secured a patent that would allow for the cloning of your online identity, but Cupertino insists that the effort is intended to help keep you more secure online.

As noted by Patently Apple, the technology in question would "pollute electronic profiling." In a nutshell, Apple would clone your online identity - known as the principal - but add fake data to those cloned profiles. The idea is, with so much conflicting information, online eavesdroppers would not be able to tell what is actually true, thereby keeping your real data secure.

"Areas of interest are assigned to the cloned identity, where a number of the areas of interest are divergent from true interests of the principal," the patent said. "One or more actions are automatically processed in response to the assigned areas of interest. The actions appear to network eavesdroppers to be associated with the principal and not with the cloned identity."

Patently Apple called the technology "one of the most surprising patents ever to be granted to Apple," and said it reads like a science-fiction novel, with shades of Blade Runner and The Matrix.

In the patent application - filed in October 2011 and published this week - Apple refers to online data collectors as Little Brothers, a nod to the Big Brother of 1984 fame.

"In a sense if the user engages in any Internet activity, information may be successfully collected about that user," Apple wrote. "Thus, even the most cautious Internet users are still being profiled over the Internet via dataveillance techniques from automated Little Brothers."

Patently Apple speculated that Apple would execute the identity cloning "via your iCloud ID." The patent says that "various embodiments of this invention can be implemented in existing network architectures."

As Patently Apple noted, "this technology is already being used in some Novell network and proxy server products today. So this isn't theoretical or 'just a patent' as some would bemoan."

The engineer credited with the invention on the patent, Stephen Carter, "isn't an Apple employee and he's licensed the technology to Novell in the past," the blog said. "Apple is noted as an assignee of this technology."