Smartphone kill-switch could save consumers $2.6 billion per year

Discussion in 'hardware' started by ronjor, Mar 31, 2014.

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  1. ronjor

    ronjor Global Moderator

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  2. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Pretty sure the survey also says many cell phone makers and most service carriers would MUCH RATHER sell you a new phone and service which is why they have been fighting tooth and nail to NOT allow such legislation go through as noted in that article and elsewhere. :(
     
  3. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    I'm sure they would. Too bad these greedy jerks don't care about anyone's safety over profits. People get shot and stabbed while getting their phones stolen. They might prevent some of these incidents if they would just kill the phones and make this a useless crime.
     
  4. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    To be fair, Samsung and Apple both have similar options on some of their phones but clearly more needs to be done, not just for the economical costs to the users, but all the inconvenience, and data/identity security of the user and his/her contacts too. And of course the violent, sometimes deadly thefts of these devices has got to stop now.
     
  5. SirDrexl

    SirDrexl Registered Member

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    I really don't know if I'd want it. At the very least, I'd have questions, such as:

    1. What exactly does the kill switch entail? Does it render the phone unable to boot, does it wipe data, etc? I would certainly hope that it would encrypt the data rather than wipe it.

    2. What kind of information would have to be provided when I (or someone pretending to be me) asks for the phone to be killed? Obviously I would want something that would be extremely difficult for someone besides me.

    3. If it is killed, how would I go about restoring it?

    4. Could the company (ab)use this feature to kill phones that no longer subscribe to their service? Phones can still be useful after they are no longer used for calls, especially if they have wi-fi.
     
  6. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    It just renders the phone unusable, removing any profit or incentive for a badguy to steal it because he/she will not be able to use it, or unload (sell) it.

    No information needs to be provided by you to anyone. You call your own cell number and activate the kill feature with your secret PIN once you realize the phone has been stolen. Even if you do need to call the carrier to disable it, you can positively identify yourself to your carrier without providing sensitive or personal information they don't already know - like your name and billing address, etc.

    I don't know if you could return the phone to service yourself once killed but still your data, your contacts and your privacy remain secured. You may need to have the provider enable it again once you prove you are the rightful owner. A pain, but much easier, and cheaper than buying a new phone.

    I suppose, "technically" a carrier could activate the kill feature if a subscription lapses, or you failed to pay your bills, but not sure they could legally - or morally. For one, old phones are supposed to still work to reach 911/999 emergency services - even if no carrier is set. This is why old phones often go to shelters for abuse victims.

    BTW, after seeing this CBS report I take back what I said earlier and now blame only the carriers, not the phone makers. This reports shows how the 5 major carriers all refused to carry Samsung phones that had the switch. It seems 50% of the carrier's profit comes from selling new phones to replace those that were stolen or lost and those carriers love and don't want to give up that easy profit. :(

    The article brings up another issue. Apple makes their OS and the phone so they can easily design and implement such a feature. Android phones use an OS developed by a consortium of makers which means they all must agree on a standard first - and those battles can be bitter and take years to settle then implement.
     
  7. SirDrexl

    SirDrexl Registered Member

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    Thanks. I don't doubt that the feature has a lot of positives; I just was concerned that there could be some negatives involved.

    I think the notion of an outsider killing a non-stolen phone would be rare, as there's nothing really to gain from it (besides the "lulz"), but then that was also the case of the writer from Wired who had his Macbook remotely wiped. I would hope that a hacker wouldn't be able to just go through customer service like in that case.

    As far as the companies disabling other aspects of the phone, all they'd have to do is put it into their user agreements, I'd think. Of course they'd keep the ability to call 911, but I was wondering if it could be more granular than that and disable everything but emergency calls.
     
  8. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Well, sure, there are negatives. But they are nothing compared to the costs, inconvenience, and privacy issues involved in replacing a stolen phone a thief can still access.
     
  9. treehouse786

    treehouse786 Registered Member

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    an apple device can 'killed' and 'revived' at will without needing to call service provider (find my iphone service)

    i think apple have got it spot on with this method
     
  10. treehouse786

    treehouse786 Registered Member

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    on apple devices at least;

    1. you can choose to wipe, or just leave it encrypted, users choice.

    2. entering apple ID passcode on any device with a browser

    3. entering apple ID passcode on the device itself

    4. varies by country i would have thought. with regards to using the WIFI after the phone is blocked, nothing works until apple ID is entered apart from emergency service calls (police, ambulance etc)
     
  11. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    I would want a remote kill/wipe feature, but I wouldn't want it to be under the control of another party. I think it would be best if there were a means to effectively switch over to your own server. So that individuals, companies, governments, etc can have the capability to remotely kill/wipe but not be at the mercy of others.
     
  12. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    I am trying to understand the logic of this. If my phone is lost or stolen I would need a new phone regardless of whether or not they killed the old one. If I did not have possession of said phone, it would still need to be replaced. For an unretrievable lost phone, this kill switch would make no difference, lost is lost.

    The ONLY situation where I can see it benefiting the carrier to NOT have this kill switch is that it would make them more money if they would allow stolen phones to be reused by the thief or someone the thief sold the phone to. If the implication here is that the phone company wants me to get robbed because they profit from it, I do not have words I can say on this forum to describe what of think of these carriers. Apparently they want you to be beaten, shot, or stabbed because it makes them money. Shame on them. :mad:
     
  13. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    I am afraid you have missed the point. The purpose of the kill switch is to remove the financial incentive for badguys to steal the phone in the first place. If (when!) all smart phones have these switches, the badguys will not be able to sell their stolen goods because these phones will be dead. No one will buy them.

    Note the same logic was used in car stereos. A few years back, thieves were stealing car stereos right and left, often destroying the dashboard in the process. But the car makers and the stereo makers got together and now all car stereos are electronically tied to the car they are originally installed in at the factories. That is, these stolen car stereos will not work if installed in a different car. Since then, theft of car stereos have dropped dramatically.

    Obviously, once mandated, it will take some time for older smartphones to phase (or be stolen) out of use and the new kill switch equipped phones to saturate the market. But once that is done, the concept will work (at least if the motive is for the badguy to steal the phone and make a few bucks selling it).

    How will that benefit the carriers? Do you really think the badguys are going to continue paying the monthly bills? Not hardly.

    The carriers benefit because victims are then forced to buy new phones and sign up for another 2 year commitment/contract. That is the incentive for the carriers to oppose this plan.

    I think you came up with some pretty good words there - though instead of "or" I think "and stabbed" is better.
     
  14. xxJackxx

    xxJackxx Registered Member

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    No, that pretty much was the point. Sorry if I did not communicate the properly.

    I have heard of cases where stolen phones have been activated by said badguy and when the original owner found out the carrier refused to do anything about it.
    -http://apple-beta.slashdot.org/story/12/04/13/2025258/iphone-users-sue-att-for-letting-thieves-re-activate-their-stolen-devices[/URL]

    I think this really comes together with the first point, and the one I was trying to make. You are only forced into this situation because you were robbed in the first place. My point was that the end result of the carriers resisting this is that they want you get get robbed so they can profit. That is the only situation where this kill switch makes a difference. A lost phone is still lost. New phone needed, no difference in sales. A stolen phone wouldn't happen (nearly as much anyway) if it were a useless brick. Lost sales opportunity, I guess is how the carrier sees it. They want you to be victimized for their profit. Maybe if that were to be emphasized enough, the public backlash would steer them toward allowing the kill switch.
     
  15. Bill_Bright

    Bill_Bright Registered Member

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    Yes, there the carriers refused to brick phone - which is my point - it is the carriers who are against this. Your link shows Apple provided a means to brick those phones but the carriers refused to send the signal to do it. Once mandatory, they will have no choice.

    That link is also 2 years old - a lot more pressure, besides consumers joining class-action lawsuits, is on the carriers today.

    But if you lose your phone, that is your fault - no one else's and it is not likely you were assaulted, injured or killed while losing it. While this feature can be used to disable a lost phone, the impetus for this new law/regulation is because people are being seriously injured or even killed when attacked by cell phone thieves. This is not really about "lost" phones though the mechanism to disable a stolen phone can be used on a lost phone too.

    Just as you should report a "lost" credit card to your bank in a timely manner, you should also report a "stolen" card. In either case, you have to report it, go through the inconvenience and time to get a new card, changing your PIN, etc.. And whether lost or stolen, you are only liable for the first $50 of charges on your card, once you do report it. No doubt the credit card companies were not exactly on board with that policy in the beginning either - not wanting to get stuck with the charges by the thief. The big banks fought hard to keep the onus on the credit card customer.

    But a funny thing happened. Once legislation forced it on them, the credit card companies figured out how to disable a stolen credit card pretty quick. This is why credit card thieves run to the nearest Wal-mart after stealing the card. The same thing needs to be done here with cell phones.

    It sounds like you want total protection from lost phones too. To protect yourself from yourself, you will need to buy the extended service plan.
    Right! That is what I said in my first post - they would "MUCH RATHER sell you a new phone and service."

    But I am confused by your "emphasize for public backlash" comment. Public backlash is exactly why this subject has such a hot spot light on it right now.

    The carriers need to come together and come up with a viable solution (that still allows 911/999 calls) real quick, or more and more state governments and eventually the federal government will jam a solution down on them. Either way, this technology needs to be in every smart phone now, and every carrier needs to be ready to implement just as quickly as Visa can terminate a credit card number.
     
  16. ronjor

    ronjor Global Moderator

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  17. lotuseclat79

    lotuseclat79 Registered Member

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  18. TheWindBringeth

    TheWindBringeth Registered Member

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    http://www.wired.com/2014/04/smartphone-kill-switch

     
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