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Proposed federal law would require smartphone 'kill switches'

post #1 of 55
Thread Starter 
Legislation introduced by a cadre of U.S. senators on Thursday looks to mandate the inclusion of a remote "kill switch" for all smartphones sold in America.

Activation Lock
Screenshot of Apple's Activation Lock feature. | Source: Apple


According to a brief overview of the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act as seen on U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (D-MN) website, the proposed bill calls for smartphones to be equipped with technology that can wipe user data and render the device inoperable when stolen.

Sen. Klobuchar is accompanied by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in introducing the legislation.

As noted by Re/Code, the legislation is similar to a California proposal that seeks the deployment of kill switch technology in a wide range of devices. It appears the federal version is more narrow, however, as it primarily aims to secure cellular-enabled devices like smartphones.

The publication pointed to a statement from wireless industry coalition CTIA's vice president of government affairs Jot Carpenter, who disagrees with the Senate's proposed solution.

"While Senator Klobuchar and CTIA are of like mind when it comes to wanting to prevent the theft of wireless devices, we clearly disagree on how to accomplish that goal," Carpenter said. "Rather than impose technology mandates, a better approach would be to enact Senator Schumer's legislation to criminalize tampering with mobile device identifiers. This would build on the industry's efforts to create the stolen device databases, give law enforcement another tool to combat criminal behavior, and leave carriers, manufacturers, and software developers free to create new, innovative loss and theft prevention tools for consumers who want them."

Apple currently has such a system built into iOS with Find My iPhone, an app and corresponding iCloud-based service that can remotely track, lock, disable and wipe an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. With iOS 7, Find My iPhone was updated to include password protection and Activation Lock, the latter of which is an opt-in feature that provides users an added layer of security against stolen phones.

When Activation Lock is switched on, nefarious users cannot turn off Find My iPhone, sign out of iCloud or erase and reactivate a given device without first entering the linked Apple ID and password. The idea is that a rendered-useless device ups the chances of recovery.

If passed into law, the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act would require all phones sold in the U.S. to include kill switch type technology free of charge. The burden would apparently fall on carriers to provide the solution, though how such a system would be deployed across a broad spectrum of devices was left unsaid.
post #2 of 55

Should be by choice, spurred by desire; not compulsion.

post #3 of 55
Was RIM the first one to implement this?
Send from my iPhone. Excuse brevity and auto-corrupt.
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Send from my iPhone. Excuse brevity and auto-corrupt.
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post #4 of 55
This is not required on Android phones simply because nobody wants to steal them anyway.
post #5 of 55

The government probably thinks that it would be great if they could kill your particular phone.  Making too many crank calls, kill that phone!

post #6 of 55
No one would want an Android Phone because it takes sooo long to unlock them that you forget what you were doing it for in the first place.. Apples new iPhone 5s with finger print scanner is so awesome.
post #7 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by MRsneezy View Post

No one would want an Android Phone because it takes sooo long to unlock them that you forget what you were doing it for in the first place.. Apples new iPhone 5s with finger print scanner is so awesome.
You swipe your finger across the phone... really hard dude.
post #8 of 55
This government "kill switch" idea really plays to Apple's strengths.

What I'd like to see is the government give the police the right to stop and administer an intelligence test to anyone they see walking around with an android device.

/s
"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #9 of 55
It would be awesome if the "kill switch" actually killed the person who stole your phone. And then posted the video to YouTube automatically.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #10 of 55
Thus far no carrier will implement a kill switch because when a phone is stolen and wiped it forces the old owner to buy a new one, plain and simple.

The carriers don't go to too much trouble to deal with stolen phones because it would decrease their profits to do so. Currently it is easier to pay theft victims cursory attention and help them select a new phone at full price.

As somebody who had an iPhone stolen, wiped and sold who-knows-where, I welcome this.
post #11 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

It would be awesome if the "kill switch" actually killed the person who stole your phone. And then posted the video to YouTube automatically.

That would be a killer feature!
Send from my iPhone. Excuse brevity and auto-corrupt.
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Send from my iPhone. Excuse brevity and auto-corrupt.
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post #12 of 55
No! No! No!, brain dead idea, build in a way to turn off a phone so that it can be hacked and used against you the owner, utterly stupid, just leave it alone.
post #13 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Danox View Post

No! No! No!, brain dead idea, build in a way to turn off a phone so that it can be hacked and used against you the owner, utterly stupid, just leave it alone.

What if someone hacked in and turned off *all* the cellphones? :)

post #14 of 55
Originally Posted by ascii View Post
What if someone hacked in and turned off *all* the cellphones? :)

 

I’m torn between wanting to give Michael Bay ideas that are actually NEW and… allowing more Michael Bay movies to exist.

post #15 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Should be by choice, spurred by desire; not compulsion.

Whose choice?

 

Right now, (in the US) the carriers have chosen to make you pay $10/month or more extra in order to enable this feature.

post #16 of 55
Originally Posted by whatisgoingon View Post
Whose choice?


The choice of the carrier, at the demand of the customer.

 
Right now, (in the US) the carriers have chosen to make you pay $10/month or more extra in order to enable this feature. 

 

And, for example, if the so-called “un-carrier” decides to make it free–as has been the case with dozens of other features with telephones in the past (remember paying for call waiting? Caller ID? etc.)–the others will be forced to follow suit.

post #17 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

...technology that can wipe user data and render the device inoperable when stolen.

We don't want no Arab spring here thanks. :rolleyes: 

Where are we on the curve? We'll know once it goes asymptotic!
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Where are we on the curve? We'll know once it goes asymptotic!
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post #18 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

This government "kill switch" idea really plays to Apple's strengths.

What I'd like to see is the government give the police the right to stop and administer an intelligence test to anyone they see walking around with an android device.

/s

What's an intelligence test?
Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #19 of 55

Great, more fodder for the patent wars. :\

/S

"You can't fall off the floor"   From 128k Mac to 8GB MBP

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"You can't fall off the floor"   From 128k Mac to 8GB MBP

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post #20 of 55

Seems a smart idea. Over here (UK) we report the IMEI which renders the phone un-usable on phone networks.

 

Oh and FWIW, I do like Android Device Manager cause I don't want any of my devices stolen and reused!

post #21 of 55

Do you people really think that the government wants to mandate kill switches in mobile phones because of concerns over theft!?!?!

 

Please.

 

They want to deploy kill switches because it gives government more power over who can communicate and how and when.  In some cases, such as trying to thwart a real terrorist activity, this may not be such a bad thing.  But I am getting increasingly concerned over the government's ability to spy on everything we do and to shut down our ability to communicate with each other.  This is NOT in keeping with a free society.  It is more like a police state.

 

I notice that it is Democrats mentioned in the article.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Republicans in on this too.  So it's not about opposition to either party.  It's about opposition to government becoming too powerful and having control over too many things.

post #22 of 55
Why stop there? Regulate screen size, memory, price, warranty, design, availability, carriers, everything. Be careful what you ask for.
post #23 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by MDCragg View Post
...I notice that it is Democrats mentioned in the article.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Republicans in on this too.  So it's not about opposition to either party.  It's about opposition to government becoming too powerful and having control over too many things.

 

The proposed bill's sponsors are all Democrats.

post #24 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Why stop there? Regulate screen size, memory, price, warranty, design, availability, carriers, everything. Be careful what you ask for.

 

Many of the things you list are regulated in many areas, such as warranty and availability. I fail to see why this is a bad thing.

 

In the UK under the 'Sale of Goods Act' I have an extended warranty out to a potential 6 years with products depending on their expected lifespan. This encourages manufacturers to design products for longevity as if the products fail early they may still be liable, something which is good for everyone. It also means that if a design flaw is found later on then manufacturers cannot escape responsibility, which is pro consumer.

post #25 of 55
This kill switch feature would only be for the actual owner of the phone, right?
I'm sorry but the only way I'll allow the government to kill my phone would be with some sort of EMP - and even then I'll be pretty pissed.
post #26 of 55

Yet another example of how completely out of touch with their given responsibilities the so called "law makers" of the US are. This is not your charter.

 

Yet another reason why every single one of them should be fired, and why the entire system is broken. They want CONTROL. Over everyone and everything.

 

They want the remote kill switch, so when you don't pay your electric bill, the SWAT team can remote wipe your entire life, break down your down, and take your kids away.

 

Think I'm joking? They already do it. It just hasn't happened to you yet. Or maybe it has.

post #27 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by walletinspector View Post

This kill switch feature would only be for the actual owner of the phone, right?
 

No sorry. Not when the Federal Government decides they need it. They don't provide for the people, they destroy the people.

post #28 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by MDCragg View Post
 

I notice that it is Democrats mentioned in the article.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Republicans in on this too.  So it's not about opposition to either party.  It's about opposition to government becoming too powerful and having control over too many things.

Originally Posted by Agent Apple View Post
 

 

The proposed bill's sponsors are all Democrats.

The reason Congress is involved is because they are trying to figure out a way to stop all the iPhone thefts and attacks on the people carrying them. This isn't about government control of phone conversations it's about reducing the reason to steal iPhones. Render them useless for the thief (the user can restart them if they are retrieved) making it useless to steal them. The fact Democrats are sponsoring the bill is obvious, they care about the common person. Republican could care less about the loss of anything by others.

post #29 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by MDCragg View Post

Do you people really think that the government wants to mandate kill switches in mobile phones because of concerns over theft!?!?!

Please.

They want to deploy kill switches because it gives government more power over who can communicate and how and when.  In some cases, such as trying to thwart a real terrorist activity, this may not be such a bad thing.  But I am getting increasingly concerned over the government's ability to spy on everything we do and to shut down our ability to communicate with each other.  This is NOT in keeping with a free society.  It is more like a police state.

I notice that it is Democrats mentioned in the article.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Republicans in on this too.  So it's not about opposition to either party.  It's about opposition to government becoming too powerful and having control over too many things.
A few months ago I would have called you a crazy conspiracy theorist. Now I realize I was the naive one. The government managed to divert the nations attention away from their crimes against the citizens of the country they swore to protect and serve by blaming the one who revealed their crimes. And we all bought it, hook line and sinker.
post #30 of 55

I hate politicians telling Apple what to do.  Hundreds of millions of people like the way Apple is now making its phones.  The politicians should let Apple make things the way they want.

post #31 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post
 

Should be by choice, spurred by desire; not compulsion.

Phones and Wireless spectrum are a regulated industry.   Unfortunately this is way outside of making sure the spectrum is used for the public good.

 

But at the same token it's a 'social good' thing, sort of like driving, and requiring you wear seat belts and have insurance.   If you lose your smart phone, _I'M_ at risk - of personal data theft, of being socially engineered for malicious intent, or even physical harm ('find friends'... your crazy ex steals my phone and stalks your current relationship).

 

While I'm not for local gov't requiring how my personal computing devices are managed... smart people will realize that the device should have minimum safety controls, but even the smart people need help in protecting themselves against the dumb ones.

post #32 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

 they are trying to figure out a way to stop all the iPhone thefts and attacks on the people carrying them. 

If this will help stop attacks on people carrying iPhones then maybe it is a good law.

post #33 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by MDCragg View Post
 

Do you people really think that the government wants to mandate kill switches in mobile phones because of concerns over theft!?!?!

 

Please.

 

They want to deploy kill switches because it gives government more power over who can communicate and how and when.  In some cases, such as trying to thwart a real terrorist activity, this may not be such a bad thing.  But I am getting increasingly concerned over the government's ability to spy on everything we do and to shut down our ability to communicate with each other.  This is NOT in keeping with a free society.  It is more like a police state.

 

I notice that it is Democrats mentioned in the article.  I wouldn't be surprised if there are some Republicans in on this too.  So it's not about opposition to either party.  It's about opposition to government becoming too powerful and having control over too many things.

While the actions of the NSA are extremely troubling and IMO a total violation of our constitutional rights, there's absolutely nothing in the legislation giving anyone but the consumer the ability to kill their stolen phone.   Apple already has the feature so it doesn't matter whether it becomes an actual law or not as far as Apple users are concerned.    Most legislators are so naive about the real world, my bet is that half the sponsors probably don't even realize that Apple already has the feature.   Should Apple remove the feature because you're paranoid that somehow the Government is going to get hold of it?  It's not the NSA proposing this law, it's a couple of Senators.  

 

The Government doesn't want to prevent you from making calls, which would be counter-productive, it wants to listen to them.    And even though in the interests of security, the Government does lots of stupid things that won't prevent terrorism (like the charade at airports or the transportation ridiculousness at the Super Bowl), giving the Government the ability to kill a phone would be useless because terrorists could simply use disposable pay-in-advance, no contract phones.   

post #34 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by lkrupp View Post

Why stop there? Regulate screen size, memory, price, warranty, design, availability, carriers, everything. Be careful what you ask for.

Again, it's a fine line.   choice is good.  but minimum standards to protect the stupid, and their contacts.

 

The fact that a kill switch can also be used to disable a subset populace makes me cringe... That's why I choose apple vs carrier sponsored phones.  

 

But in general... there are a lot bigger problems I wish my congress would be working on.

post #35 of 55
Bloody lawmakers. Keep your noses out of it and let competition sort these things out.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #36 of 55

Again, another law to protect people from their own irresponsibility. Most of the people I know who had a phone stolen, did not have a second one stolen, why they learned their lesson the first time. But there are still a few I run in to who had their phone stolen a few times and when you meet them you understand why.

 

I like the face the Apple has the find my phone feature along with the ability to lock and disable the phone, but it does not need to be a law, If the Government spent more time going after the thieves then good citizen would not have to worry about their stuff being stolen. How about letting people carry a gun, thieves would think twice about going after someone stuff since most thieves are cowards.

post #37 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by jkichline View Post

This is not required on Android phones simply because nobody wants to steal them anyway.

This feature is not to fight phone theft, it's to fight identity theft. If someone wants to steal your identity, they'd probably prefer you used an Android phone.

post #38 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post
 

This feature is not to fight phone theft, it's to fight identity theft. If someone wants to steal your identity, they'd probably prefer you used an Android phone.

Good point!

post #39 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by rob53 View Post

The reason Congress is involved is because they are trying to figure out a way to stop all the iPhone thefts and attacks on the people carrying them. This isn't about government control of phone conversations it's about reducing the reason to steal iPhones. Render them useless for the thief (the user can restart them if they are retrieved) making it useless to steal them.

 

If the goal is to make the world safe for iPhones, Apple has already taken care of it with iOS 7, no legislation required.  All that is needed to enable this is to set up a lock code and use an existing Apple ID or create a new one, which iOS asks the user to do when they first power on the iPhone.  iPhone 5S users can lock the phone with Touch ID, the lock code is only needed after a power cycle.  To reset to another SIM card, a thief would have to sign in with the Apple ID used to set up the phone.  Problem solved.

 

 

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

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   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

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post #40 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by ben9753 View Post

A few months ago I would have called you a crazy conspiracy theorist. Now I realize I was the naive one. The government managed to divert the nations attention away from their crimes against the citizens of the country they swore to protect and serve by blaming the one who revealed their crimes. And we all bought it, hook line and sinker.
Ditto
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