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Apple proposes iPhone that calls security agency when stolen

post #1 of 45
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In the latest installment of Apple's iPhone security-related patent filings, the Cupertino-based company describes the implementation of loss prevention software that would notify a security agency in the event the handset is lost or stolen, which could in turn lead to a police officer being dispatched to the current location of the device based on GPS coordinates.

More specifically, the 12-page filing notes that an electronic device can be configured to enter a prevention mode in response to detecting a force that exceeds a predetermined threshold, thereby providing security.

Upon entering a prevention mode, Apple says the device may transmit a security transmission, in the form of a telephone call or an e-mail. This security transmission, when received by a security entity, could lead to the security entity dispatching an officer to the device's location, or to the security entity placing a telephone call to the device's owner, thereby providing additional security.

"To provide greater security, an electronic device in a security mode can be configured to enter a 'lock-down' mode when the device is exposed to vibration or acceleration above a predetermined lock-down threshold, thereby preventing unauthorized use of the device," the company adds. "The vibration/acceleration lock-down threshold for a lock-down mode may be set to be the same as a security threshold for sending a security transmission or may be set to a different level of vibration/acceleration."

Users would be able to set preferences that determine various states or circumstances in which an iPhone would switch into its security mode, such as when the device has been idle, without user input and/or certain vibration/acceleration events, for a predetermined period of time.



The filing is credited to Apple engineer Michael Lee. It follows on the heels of a similar patent, which described stealth biometric security measures that could help identify authorized users with fingerprints or even facial recognition.
post #2 of 45
[QUOTE=AppleInsider;1397259.... the Cupertino-based company describes the implementation of loss prevention software that would notify a security agency in the event the handset is lost or stolen, which could in turn lead to a police officer being dispatched to the current location of the device based on GPS coordinates.[/QUOTE]

Oh man, just what the cops need. Budgets are down, forces are being scaled back. Pensions trimmed, salaries cut. Homes are being broken into, stores ransacked, carjackings, drugs being sold to kids, people raped and murdered, and now, the police have to respond to somebody's cell phone being misplaced or snarfed? Give me a break.

Just make it so if it's stolen, we can send it a coded message and the thing will lock up entirely, frozen shut, making it totally worthless and a giant waste of time to steal someone's iPhone.

But keep the cops out of it.
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post #3 of 45
Why not just get AT&T to offer insurance for the device?
post #4 of 45
So basically, the police have nothing to do with this story since the phone would call a security agent instead.

Great writing.
post #5 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZIGraphics View Post

Why not just get AT&T to offer insurance for the device?

Do other cell phone carriers offer theft insurance?
post #6 of 45
Some idiot loses his phone... Its the idiots fault.

The person finding it gets to keep it. Finders Keeper.

If this policy applies to Apple, it should apply to all.

Could you imagine all the problems and headaches something this stupid could do?

I have yet to lose anything.
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post #7 of 45
I think I'll take theft-detection based on passcode, NOT movement, thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_s View Post

Oh man, just what the cops need. Budgets are down, forces are being scaled back. Pensions trimmed, salaries cut. Homes are being broken into, stores ransacked, carjackings, drugs being sold to kids, people raped and murdered, and now, the police have to respond to somebody's cell phone being misplaced or snarfed? Give me a break.

Just make it so if it's stolen, we can send it a coded message and the thing will lock up entirely, frozen shut, making it totally worthless and a giant waste of time to steal someone's iPhone.

But keep the cops out of it.

Actually, this system doesn't call the cops. It contacts the user or the user's security service. THEN, the cops can be contacted by humans if they see fit. Which humans can already do anyway. (If you think small theft should go unreported, then that's a problem you'll have to address in other ways: removing this feature won't stop people from calling the police over stolen phones.)

This doesn't make it any easier to call the cops to report a theft. It just gives more information (the GPS coordinates) to make the call USEFUL. That sounds useful to me. The police can still ignore the crime if they wish, but at least they have some valuable information. Lots of stolen phones showing up at one address? Might be worth looking into. Just one? Maybe ignore it and just track the crime stats for future decision making. Either way, including the coordinates in the call you were already going to make to police isn't really harmful.

Also, insurance and device lock aren't a cure-all: they don't help you recover the data you had on the phone since the last backup.
post #8 of 45
Send the info to the user, not the cops...

Cops don't care if the user left it somewhere by accident or if it was taken from a backpack in a high school for instance. They might care more if your apartment or car was broken into. If there is evidence that you are a victim in a string of crimes by the criminal it's more likely the police will care about that iPhone info since it's more likely the whoever took it is a "professional" theif and not just some kid who took some other kid's phone. They could use the location info to find the criminals who more than likely have committed many more crimes than just iPhone theft.

So send the info to the user, let them go to the police with the circumstances of the theft and let them determine if it's worth their time to pursue.
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post #9 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt_s View Post

Oh man, just what the cops need. Budgets are down, forces are being scaled back. Pensions trimmed, salaries cut. Homes are being broken into, stores ransacked, carjackings, drugs being sold to kids, people raped and murdered, and now, the police have to respond to somebody's cell phone being misplaced or snarfed? Give me a break.

Just make it so if it's stolen, we can send it a coded message and the thing will lock up entirely, frozen shut, making it totally worthless and a giant waste of time to steal someone's iPhone.

But keep the cops out of it.

Until the cops stop sitting on the side of the road pulling people over for going w/ the flow of traffic and when they stop installing red-light cameras (that are proven to cause MORE wrecks) I won't think the cops have enough to do. Which is sad because there are so many injustices going around and all the departments care about is ways to extract more money from people and less about preventing murders, rapes, etc...

Just make a way to make the phone worthless that's all I want - if I lose it then it's my own fault and I'm out the $400-$500 bucks it'll cost me to replace said iPhone (which is part that really sucks because you sure as heck aren't going to get the $200-$300 deal you would at the end of the contract).
post #10 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by teckstud View Post

Do other cell phone carriers offer theft insurance?

Yes--and so does AT&T on other phones. (It's an extra you must pay for, of course.)

Then again, your homeowner's or renter's insurance probably already covers your personal property when outside the home--from theft or even breakage. I know mine does. (But unless you "upgrade" your policy there may be a limit on how much electronics coverage you have. Worth looking into. My old policy required me to pay a small amount extra or it didn't cover the full value of all my computers and electronics--and they didn't tell me that limit or offer the options, I just found it in the fine print. My new policy had no such limitations luckily.)
post #11 of 45
one of Apple's stupid ideas...
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post #12 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

So basically, the police have nothing to do with this story since the phone would call a security agent instead.

Great writing.

What do you expect in a "PC" world? And I'm not talking about John Hodgman.

We no longer have a "War on Terror" but an "Overseas Contingency Operation".

We no longer have "terrorist acts" but "Man Caused Destruction", (a little sexist if you ask me).

Anyway, I can see where AI gets off writing 'security agent', it comes from the change we can believe in!

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post #13 of 45
I think this could be quite useful if it was a very subtle feature. All you need it to do is disable itself from use completely when in this mode and perhaps push it's location to a service periodically.

This is where the carriers should come in. If a device goes into stolen mode, it should send this to your carrier to be recorded next to your account, and perhaps supply the location as well. The only way you can get this unlocked is to re-enable through the carrier.

I would not mind ringing O2 if there was a possibility I could get my phone back!

I also hate the through of someone else using my property, if they had stolen something that turns out to be useless for them, that would make me feel better at least.
post #14 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by bdkennedy1 View Post

So basically, the police have nothing to do with this story since the phone would call a security agent instead.

Great writing.

No. You're being an ass. It clearly states that a message would be sent to a security agency, which would then have an officer dispatched to the location. The same way home security would work.

Thanks,

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post #15 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

What do you expect in a "PC" world? And I'm not talking about John Hodgman.

We no longer have a "War on Terror" but an "Overseas Contingency Operation".

We no longer have "terrorist acts" but "Man Caused Destruction", (a little sexist if you ask me).

Anyway, I can see where AI gets off writing 'security agent', it comes from the change we can believe in!

You didn't read the article The security agent is a separate service--who THEN can call police.

It's NOT the same as police, and the article headline is indeed wrong. But that's the only writing problem--not the article: it's not AI who chose the term "security," they're just reporting on the concept.

(And the concept of euphemisms was not invented recently--see also: the Bush administration on torture )
post #16 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by nagromme View Post

You didn't read the article The security agent is a separate service--who THEN can call police.

It's NOT the same as police, and the article headline is indeed wrong. But that's the only writing problem--not the article: it's not AI who chose the term "security," they're just reporting on the concept.

(And the concept of euphemisms was not invented recently--see also: the Bush administration on torture )

Bleh, I think you're all taking the original title way to literally. It's not feasible for the phone to actually call the cops directly when it thinks its stolen, but the end result for an iPhone that was indeed stolen would be the same if this patent became a reality. I changed the title to be more explicit. Sorry for the confusion.

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post #17 of 45
Combined with a passcode this could work... I think it's be a fine balance between setting it off by accident and having it not work at all..
post #18 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

What do you expect in a "PC" world? And I'm not talking about John Hodgman.

We no longer have a "War on Terror" but an "Overseas Contingency Operation".

We no longer have "terrorist acts" but "Man Caused Destruction", (a little sexist if you ask me).

Anyway, I can see where AI gets off writing 'security agent', it comes from the change we can believe in!

You forgot to add the Kathleen Sibelius to your signature as yet another one who failed to pay taxes- somehow forgot to pay $7,000- that a 17inch MacBook Pro and 24" iMac, a Cinema display and an iPhone!
post #19 of 45
Um...since when does a large vibration mean my phone has been lost or stolen?
post #20 of 45
does anyone else think that "detecting a force that exceeds a predetermined threshold" does not necessarily equate to phone theft? I would assume most phone thefts happen in situations where the owner misplaced his phone or left it unattended in a public place.
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post #21 of 45
There's a 80% chance that if someone stills your iPhone he won't know how to shut it off, so the first few minutes you notice it's missing are critical. I seen a few people pocket iPhones that got caught, one time at NYC subway an at a house party, lol.
post #22 of 45
Right- I can see someone saying it got stolen meanwhile they dropped it in the toilet.
post #23 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post

Um...since when does a large vibration mean my phone has been lost or stolen?

Like when it vanishes while standing under a flying saucer?
post #24 of 45
Orange offers insurance package covering iPhone. 5 eur/month I believe...

As soon as security officer catches me, the legitimate iPhone owner, by mistake, I sue Apple.

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post #25 of 45
I could see this being useful if a purse/backpack was stolen. But the Mobile Me tracking app can do this as well.
post #26 of 45
Just as the 2G iPhone prefaced the very enhanced 3G iPhone experience for personal users, the 3G iPhone may be a preface to the very enhanced 3G+ iPhone experience for enterprise in addition to a near ultimate experience for personal users with the ultimate experience to follow in a 4G adaptation for both types of users, IMO.
post #27 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by fishstick_kitty View Post

Um...since when does a large vibration mean my phone has been lost or stolen?

When it is not in your pocket. If it ain't it should be lying somewhere quietly, like on your desk, or in another jacket pocket. If that jacket pocket is moving, however, it most likely isn't your jacket.
post #28 of 45
This is not "Apple's stupid idea" as someone posted - as applied to a cell phone and as implemented perhaps - but there has been software available for some time for notebooks that has a similar purpose - but without a built in GPS chip most notebooks cannot tell you where it is and the software only works if the machine is connected to a network.

What I would suggest is a security mode that after so may failed attempts to unlock puts up a screen that says the phone must be taken to the Apple store for repair - then when they look up the serial number up pops a message that says the unit was reported stolen - which triggers a process by which the registered owner is notified and the person who brought it in is told to come back tomorrow - at which time the authorities can be alerted and given the name and address of the person who brought the device in - if that person has a criminal record etc the cops can be waiting to have a little chat with them on exactly how they came into possession of the device - and which provides time for the owner of record to come in and prove ownership by successfully answering the security questions.
post #29 of 45
Wasn't there another article recently about potential enhancements to MobileMe that would allow the owner to locate a lost/stolen iPhone online? The owner would register their iPhone on their MobileMe account and be able to log into MM and find out where their phone was. The "security agent" in this patent could simply be this MobileMe service. This patent simply outlines how the iPhone could determine for itself if it's been stolen (a little hokey, but whatever). It would then report it's position to MM where the owner can locate it and determine if they need to call the police (vs, "oh, I left it in my car in the driveway").
post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

What do you expect in a "PC" world? And I'm not talking about John Hodgman.

We no longer have a "War on Terror" but an "Overseas Contingency Operation".

We no longer have "terrorist acts" but "Man Caused Destruction", (a little sexist if you ask me).

Anyway, I can see where AI gets off writing 'security agent', it comes from the change we can believe in!

Look who crawled out from under his rock!

What happened, did Bill O'Reilly get tired of your half-hearted attempts at fellating him?
post #31 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by italiankid View Post

Some idiot loses his phone... Its the idiots fault.

The person finding it gets to keep it. Finders Keeper.

If this policy applies to Apple, it should apply to all.

Could you imagine all the problems and headaches something this stupid could do?

I have yet to lose anything.

Why so stupid - please elaborate. I am not crazy about any device automatically calling the cops, but that would never happen anyway. So...

Some idiot looses his phone - idiots fault. No one will argue with that but we're all idiots from time to time.

First you determine whether your phone is 'on the move' - eg someone's got it.

Then you call your phone, send a txt, whatever. If the person does not reply you can assume they intend to keep it and as it is yours you have a right to try and get it back.

You can locate the the whereabouts of the phone but if you see a person speaking on it you may not want to say 'That's mine!' and try and grab it. a) you could be wrong, and b) you could get beat up, or worse.

So you call the cops and you have the evidence to prove your point. I thinks thats fair. Whether it is worth the replacement cost is another question. It may be better to just remotely wipe it, consider lesson learned and go buy another.

The "finders Keepers" philosophy is pretty stupid, however but you are excused because you have never lost anything ;-).
post #32 of 45
So the agenda of tracking all of our movements and the complete destruction of privacy continues in the name of 'Security'.
Sorry, but what if I don't want my phone trackable by the iPolice?

This is a horrible idea. One of many where Apple wants 2010 to look like 1984.
post #33 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

When it is not in your pocket. If it ain't it should be lying somewhere quietly, like on your desk, or in another jacket pocket. If that jacket pocket is moving, however, it most likely isn't your jacket.

What ?

Quote:
If that jacket pocket is moving, however, it most likely isn't your jacket.

Wha tif it is your jacket? It's in your jacket pocket and you pick up your jacket to go home, it'll lock up and call the police?

If it's on your desk and someone walks by and picks it up and slips it into their pocket, how is that "vibration or acceleration above a predetermined lock-down threshold," more than what you would normally use?
post #34 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

So the agenda of tracking all of our movements and the complete destruction of privacy continues in the name of 'Security'.
Sorry, but what if I don't want my phone trackable by the iPolice?

This is a horrible idea. One of many where Apple wants 2010 to look like 1984.

So Apple develops a software that let's u contract a third party security company to find your missing iPhone, lost or stolen.

Obviously it is your choice to get the police involved. Certainly if your iPhone had been stolen along with your car or your home had been burglurized, this function would be most welcomed.

Or I am certain just being able to use it to find where you left it would be valuable. You just have tobewilling to pay for it
post #35 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

W
Wha tif it is your jacket? It's in your jacket pocket and you pick up your jacket to go home, it'll lock up and call the police?

You are really looking for problems, aren't you? Why would your phone lock up and call the police? Why would you report it stolen if it wasn't? The phone doesn't know it is stolen unless you notify somebody. Then, if it is 'moving' and it turns out to be in your own pocket you deserve to be arrested for not having called your own phone before reporting it stolen.
Quote:
If it's on your desk and someone walks by and picks it up and slips it into their pocket, how is that "vibration or acceleration above a predetermined lock-down threshold," more than what you would normally use?

Again, you are being over dramatic. Of course it can't tell that it is stolen unless you let someone, or some thing, know. Then it can see if it is being used or is idle. If it is idle it can tell you to look harder, look in your shoe, whatever. If it is in your car it won't register that much movement and it will have a certain pattern to the movement. I can't be screwed to look but I can't believe the article said the 'lock down' would happen without any kind of external trigger. That's just silly.
post #36 of 45
Guess this explains why our "On-Star" like app was given the no-go. Used the accel, and flashing screen with voice prompts to tell if you were in an accident. It would then call 911 and repeat off the GPS location, then call number #2, then #3...
post #37 of 45
I think this can be a great feature as long as it's driven manually by the owner of the iPhone. If you think it's been stolen, you go to defcon1, which is the phone pin-locks using a pin number you type into iTunes. ( Then you find it in your other jacket ).

At defcon2, you're pretty sure it's not where it should be and you can request an emailed GPS co-ordinate. ( Oh, I left it at the office ).

At defcon3, you ready to file a police report. You get regular emails from the iPhone with maps including time spent at various locations, sound bites of voice, numbers called, photos ( iPhone spotted a face in-frame ). ( You realise it's been stolen by some-one at your college and hand over the proof to the police, who visit their home ).

The key difference here is that it's a deterrent. Once the iPhone is known as the worst phone to steal - some thieves will decide not to steal the phone BEFORE it happens. This prevents the inconvenience and maybe even the stabbing/shooting bit too. That's why it's better than insurance, disabling, etc, cos the thief is threatened and no-one wants to buy a stolen iPhone.

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post #38 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by paxman View Post

You are really looking for problems, aren't you?

I'm not. I was trying to figure out your post.

Quote:
Why would your phone lock up and call the police?

Because it's supposed to. Did you actually read the article?

Quote:
The phone doesn't know it is stolen unless you notify somebody.

According the article, it sure does.
"when the device is exposed to vibration or acceleration above a predetermined lock-down threshold" it locks down.
My point is that a simple movement will determine theft?

Quote:
Again, you are being over dramatic. Of course it can't tell that it is stolen unless you let someone, or some thing, know.

Why am I being overdramatic by questioning your response (which I did not understand) to the article? This article states that the device can determine it is being stolen automatically, based on movement, then lock the device and send an email or phone home/police/security.

Quote:
I can't believe the article said the 'lock down' would happen without any kind of external trigger.

Right. The only external trigger needed is simply "vibration or acceleration above a predetermined lock-down threshold"
post #39 of 45
Apple has a great idea but it needs a few additional features.

Personally I'd like control over what can function in lockdown mode. I'd set mine to allow the use of the phone but delete the applications and personal data so the thief can access it.

The phone should contact Apple servers hour to check if it should go into lost/stolen mode. If it is it should update Apple with it's current location every 5 minutes. Only Apple or the owner should be able to set lost/stolen mode. Apple should only be able to set it if there is a police report but the owner should be able to set it anytime.

There should be a web site where the account holder can, using either computer or another iPhone, view locations and control the phone.

One should be able to tell this site to instruct the phone to update every 10 seconds for a limited period of time so that when one is in the near the phone it's easier to track.

One should be able to tell the phone to go into locate mode, maybe yelling "I've been stolen" at max volume so that once one is within a few meters the phone it's easy to fine who has it. Heck, with all of the noise the theif might even drop it and run.

It should also have a find mode which is much like locate but set to it just beeps every few seconds. This is for those time where you not sure when in the house you left the phone.

Even if you completely wipe the phone or put in a different SIM card none of these features would be turn off. It's locked to the serial number and the web site is setup for you when you activate your phone. If the phone is marked lost/stolen then you can't activate or change the site ownership until it removed from the lost/stolen list.

Once this is done iPhones would not be worth stealing since there will be no value to a thief any more.
post #40 of 45
... It's a brave new world, isn't it? I am happy that Apple is doing so well, after years of being marginalized, but please be careful of not becoming M*crosoft ...
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