Attention paranoid Internet privacy wahoos: Apple has just patented a new system that will help you avoid unwanted tracking. Basically, it creates an alternate identity which you pass off as yourself. Sound like Science Fiction? Yup, this is some straight up Multiplicity madness.
The technical ins and outs of the patent as reported by Patently Apple will give you a total headache, but here's what you need to know. When you're on the internet—or merely on a network—someone's basically always collecting information about you. You're being tracked for a whole host of reasons both nefarious and well-intentioned.
The cloning service Apple defines would allow you to configure a "clone" of your identity, which would be the one that those interested parties would see. You can define a whole host of attributes ("areas of interest" and "feigned confidential information") about the clone. You can also define when you want different parts of your real identity used. The reason these are clones and not outright fake identities, is that the clones would be designed to be similar to you in some respects so that whoever is tracking you won't catch on. Kind of like your OKCupid profile. Smart.
Sounds crazy, but remember, this is a patent, so it's intentionally very broad. Who knows what a real world service would look like. But if you think about it, this is a lot like what we already do online anyway. You've probably used fake information or a dummy e-mail account to sign up for silly services before. This is basically the same thing, except that it's more wholly applied to your online existence. Let's just hope that you remember where the real you begins and ends. [Patently Apple]