UK's latest embarrassing technology demand centers on phone thefts

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in iPhone

The UK has had the bright idea that Apple and others should design a way to stop cellphone thefts -- by doing precisely what they've already been doing for years.

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There are children starving in the UK, school and theater buildings are literally crumbling, and the government has abandoned a high speed rail effort after spending 14 years and $121 billion on it. Seemingly unable to even address genuine concerns in the country, the UK has been repeatedly trying to look tough by cracking down hard on technology issues it does not understand.

The long list includes nonsense about encryption, and actual lies about its COVID app plans. Now according to the country's tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mail, it's time for Apple, Google, and Samsung to held responsible and design technology solutions to stop smartphone theft.

You know, more than they all are doing now.

London mayor Sadiq Khan and Metropolitan (London) Police chief Sir Mark Rowley have called for a meeting with these Big Tech firms. The companies will be asked to commit to a plan to "design out" cellphone thefts.

"This meeting is an important milestone to developing a practical and long-term solution to ending the menace of mobile phone crime," said Khan, "which we know is driving violence and criminality in our communities - not just in London but across the UK."

It follows a reported rise in phone thefts of 28% over the last year. Unusually, the percentage figure is for once accompanied by some data: 157 cellphones were stolen each day in London.

The idea is that cellphone manufacturers could make it so that, for instance, phones are worthless when stolen. Perhaps the companies could make the phones so that they can't be unlocked except by the owner.

Like they are now. So, presumably it's going to be a short meeting.

For Apple's iCloud lock has long done all of this. Unless an owner is forced or manipulated into unlocking their iPhone, iCloud lock already does everything the UK has just dreamt up.

It is true that people are forced to unlock their iPhones, sometimes even at knifepoint. However, nothing the UK is suggesting would change that.

At present, the market for stolen phones is more in parts. It's conceivable that what the UK really means is that it wants firms to crack down on components, to make it harder to reuse them and so less worth being stolen.

However, that would mean locking down components and creating parts serialization -- which is exactly the opposite of the UK's previous demands against proprietary components creating e-waste.

Politicians blathering on about tech never ends well for anybody



This is unlikely to be the end of the UK's posturing instead of governing, but there's also an element of killing time until the country's next General Election. No date has been set for this but by law, it must take place no later than January 2025.

The UK isn't officially a two-party nation, but effectively it is with Conservatives and Labour being very broadly analogous to the Republicans and Democrats. The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, though to this day regularly blame current problems on the previous Labour government.

Following Brexit, countless scandals, and the fastest turnover of Prime Ministers in British political history, media expects the Conservatives are expected to lose the next election. Who knows what will happen at the ballet box, though.

Consequently, to get those votes, the current round of posturing and inaction comes as the government is practically in a lame duck situation. So following the General Election, we may see fewer embarrassing technology gaffs coming from the UK.

But we're not counting on it -- and not least because London Mayor Sadiq Khan is a Labour MP.

It seems that the only thing that is almost universal to politicians is a complete lack of knowledge about technology, and the will to try to regulate it anyway.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    So they asked for a meeting?  That's it?  That's the reason for this disdainful, spluttering article?  I don't know why you expect politicians to be fully informed about technological solutions to social problems, but I'd have thought it obvious that one of the ways they get informed is by meeting with technology vendors.

    Sadiq Khan hasn't been a Labour MP for many years.
    williamlondonGrannySmith99maccarmaspero
  • Reply 2 of 17
    sphericspheric Posts: 2,527member
    PLEASE make a clear distinction between "News" and editorialising content. 

    This is obviously the latter, but it's not always as easily distinguished. 

    Clearly delineating between reporting and opinion is a BASIC tenet of reputable journalism. 
    williamlondonGrannySmith99command_fmaccapoisednoisewatto_cobrarmasperotokyojimu
  • Reply 3 of 17
    A good commentary, save for the fact that "Labour MP" no longer applies. The rest seems spot on. 

    This is just another bullying, political posturing move by flailing politicians trying to create the appearance that they are doing SOMEthing. "We have a crime problem? Blame the tech companies!" Clearly the mayor and police chief are trying to hide their incompetence behind these moves. Pathetic. 
    GrannySmith99baconstangwatto_cobraBart Y
  • Reply 4 of 17
    Honkers said:
    So they asked for a meeting?  That's it?  That's the reason for this disdainful, spluttering article? 


    No, it’s a good article. They’re thick as can be. The encryption bs was ridiculous and rehashing the theft thing is inane. Did they blow their advisor budgets on cocaine or something?
    williamlondonGrannySmith99baconstangwatto_cobraBart Y
  • Reply 5 of 17
    bulk001bulk001 Posts: 745member
    I for one wish governments would do more to contain tech, not less. The EU is forcing to open the App Store is a big win that will over time allow users to load what they want from any source they want. I don't need the tech company to baby me. Cracking down in Google, FB and X privacy and fake news is also needed. If 158 phones are stolen a day in London then absolutely, the government should be involved to find better ways to cut down on theft and recovery. This reads like more of a biased opinion piece, not much in the way of reporting the facts. This writer has gotten it wrong in several stories now (like the one where the iPhone 15 heating problem was not a problem at all till Apple acknowledged it!)
    williamlondonsphericmacca
  • Reply 6 of 17
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 7,499member
    There probably is more that can be done to thwart theft intention.

    If we are to officially and universally allow for strictly personal data to be stored on mobile devices (bank cards, ID, driving licence, transport permits health cards/prescription data etc) then we really should have a common framework for securing devices. 

    Ideally, that should allow for stolen phones to report 'themselves' to local law enforcement or authorised security personnel. 

    There is no reason it can't go hand in hand with component level serialisation from a security perspective. Serialisation should be tied to the owner though, not only Apple and the user should be able to transfer the Serialisation data to a new owner etc. 

    Perhaps there is an opportunity for something like blockchain to be used. In tandem with a black box type device for home management.

    Obviously, taking those kinds of security measures would require industry and political collaboration at many levels. 

    dewme
  • Reply 7 of 17
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 1,115member
    Oh my god. No wonder this hack no longer works at the beeb. What a load of horse shit this article is. 

    This guy is flipping pathetic. APPLE NEWS please. I hate the current government as much as the next man but keep your sodding political opinions to yourself and just report relevant news. 
    Yeah, it's a pretty weak article.

    "There are children starving in the UK, school and theater buildings are literally crumbling, and the government has abandoned a high speed rail effort after spending 14 years and $121 billion on it."

    3 different ministries, none of which have to do with the subject of the article. HS2 hasn't been abandoned completely, just the northern extension from the Midlands to Manchester. Pretty significant, but the section which is under construction is going to be completed. The problems with Autoclaved Aerated Concrete are well documented, but are largely the responsibility of local governments, not Parliament.
    williamlondonGrannySmith99baconstangcommand_fsphericmaccawatto_cobrarmaspero
  • Reply 8 of 17
    Our so called government is the most useless ever in my lifetime (and I’m getting on!) but conflating them with the Labour Mayor of London is odd to say the least. I don’t know what power Mr Khan would have in this area at the kind of national/global level being discussed.

    As for editorialising, the media does it every single hour of every single day. Every article you read has an angle - some state it up front whereas others (the BBC comes to mind) claim to be impartial. There is no impartiality from the majority of the world’s media and I personally find it refreshing to have the complete incompetence and stupidity of the current shower occupying Number 10 listed. The UK media let them get away with an obscene amount, allow them avoid answering awkward questions and not pulling them up on their never ending stream of lies. One of the main reasons we are living with the nightmare of Brexit is because the media are so supine and never questioned any of the rubbish being spouted at the time. Media behaviour has real world consequences, but when it’s owned by billionaires, what do you expect? They might just have a point of view …
    GrannySmith99baconstangdewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 17
    Ref: one of the first posts - Somehow I am able to understand things without, "having a meeting about it." How do I do that? I would also not implement a policy about something before I understood the issues. Unfortunately, many political gestures (jesters) are all about theater. They want to look like they are doing something.

    A great example is the USA's TSA policies. You can't bring more than 3 oz of some liquid or toothpaste tube with you, but nothing stops two or more people from combining their items once on the plane. Or, the TSA wouldn't let me bring nail clippers across but I could buy them in the gift shop on the other side. It's just theater. It looks, to the unsuspecting public, like something useful is being done.

    The downside is the time and resources that are being spent creating and maintaining ineffective processes - taking time and resources away from finding actual, effective solutions.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 17
    Could we please stop these irrelevant rambling political pieces from this author. 

    There seems to be a technology story in there somewhere, between technology companies and the mayor of London, but dragging in a random selection of 'UK is doomed' political stories is not useful and does not belong here.


    And the "ballet box" - are we dragging in the arts too? /s
    sphericHonkersrmasperotokyojimuTRAG
  • Reply 11 of 17
    Ref: one of the first posts - Somehow I am able to understand things without, "having a meeting about it." How do I do that? I would also not implement a policy about something before I understood the issues.
    All the more reason to have conversations with experts.  You have conversations at meetings.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    PLEASE STOP TALKING ABOUT POLITICS! POLITICS IS COMPLICATED AND DIFFICULT! I DO NOT WANT TO DEAL WITH SUCH THINGS! PLEASE ONLY TALK ABOUT APPLE GAMES AND TOYS PLEASE! NEWS AND UPDATES ABOUT CHEETOS ARE ALSO ACCEPTABLE!

    /s
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    maccamacca Posts: 23member
    – 'There are children starving in the UK'
    If you want to see starving children look no further than the USA. The UK hasn't got anything like the poverty levels as the states (and that should be addressed).

    – 'abandoned a high speed rail effort after spending 14 years and $121 billion on it'
    That was the estimated cost for the whole project and nothing like what has been spent on it. They are moving more than £30B to be used on transport in the North instead. As a northerner I'm glad they have scrapped the HS2.

    – 'Now according to the country's tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mail'
    So there is only one tabloid paper? I thought that there were many from both sides of the political spectrum

    – 'London mayor Sadiq Khan and Metropolitan (London) Police chief Sir Mark Rowley have called for a meeting with these Big Tech firms'
    So now if two people (who are not even in the government) call for a meeting then they speak for the whole of the UK?

    – 'This is unlikely to be the end of the UK's posturing instead of governing, but there's also an element of killing time until the country's next General Election. No date has been set for this but by law, it must take place no later than January 2025.'
    This is not a tech article its just some political hit piece from a leftie not happy about the current government 

    – 'Following Brexit, countless scandals, and the fastest turnover of Prime Ministers in British political history, media expects the Conservatives are expected to lose the next election. Who knows what will happen at the ballet box, though.'
    Yep, political BINGO time! Was waiting for this. Yep it was biggest decision in the last 50 years. All political parties were divided as well as the country.

    – 'But we're not counting on it — and not least because London Mayor Sadiq Khan is a Labour MP.'
    Another mistake, He is NOT A MP hence, he's mayor. He USED to be a Labour MP

    So the whole article, I hate the UK and the current government. The way people voted. And because things are not 100% perfect in the UK then people who are not even in government are not allowed to express their concerns to tech companies?

    Well I'm guessing since he's on the ultra left he wants the UK to be more like China, then at least people who don't agree with him can be controlled better.

    If I was in control of Appleinsider I would be concerned more about tech then political hit pieces from Guardian ultra lefties. I really don't want to see it going the way of VICE.

    edited October 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 17
    English bashing is a fresh/entertaining change from French bashing, no ?
    edited October 2023
  • Reply 15 of 17
    I suggest the authors create a substack and posts this kind of editorial commentary that reeks of personal biases and lacks any real values there. Instead of on what was once a fantastic source of Apple-focused news. ffs.
    spheric
  • Reply 16 of 17
    macca said:
    – 'There are children starving in the UK'
    If you want to see starving children look no further than the USA. The UK hasn't got anything like the poverty levels as the states (and that should be addressed).

    – 'abandoned a high speed rail effort after spending 14 years and $121 billion on it'
    That was the estimated cost for the whole project and nothing like what has been spent on it. They are moving more than £30B to be used on transport in the North instead. As a northerner I'm glad they have scrapped the HS2.

    – 'Now according to the country's tabloid newspaper, the Daily Mail'
    So there is only one tabloid paper? I thought that there were many from both sides of the political spectrum

    – 'London mayor Sadiq Khan and Metropolitan (London) Police chief Sir Mark Rowley have called for a meeting with these Big Tech firms'
    So now if two people (who are not even in the government) call for a meeting then they speak for the whole of the UK?

    – 'This is unlikely to be the end of the UK's posturing instead of governing, but there's also an element of killing time until the country's next General Election. No date has been set for this but by law, it must take place no later than January 2025.'
    This is not a tech article its just some political hit piece from a leftie not happy about the current government 

    – 'Following Brexit, countless scandals, and the fastest turnover of Prime Ministers in British political history, media expects the Conservatives are expected to lose the next election. Who knows what will happen at the ballet box, though.'
    Yep, political BINGO time! Was waiting for this. Yep it was biggest decision in the last 50 years. All political parties were divided as well as the country.

    – 'But we're not counting on it — and not least because London Mayor Sadiq Khan is a Labour MP.'
    Another mistake, He is NOT A MP hence, he's mayor. He USED to be a Labour MP

    So the whole article, I hate the UK and the current government. The way people voted. And because things are not 100% perfect in the UK then people who are not even in government are not allowed to express their concerns to tech companies?

    Well I'm guessing since he's on the ultra left he wants the UK to be more like China, then at least people who don't agree with him can be controlled better.

    If I was in control of Appleinsider I would be concerned more about tech then political hit pieces from Guardian ultra lefties. I really don't want to see it going the way of VICE.


    A mayor is not part of the government? They don't sit in a government office and perform government duties? Sounds either very weird or very wrong. 

    There are starving children here? BFD! There are starving children in LOTS of places! - seems a strange and pointless position to take. 

     If the implication was that the split in Brexit votes was ≈50/50 across party lines, that's also wrong/misleading as it was predominantly championed by right-wingers. 


    https://www.pewresearch.org/short-reads/2019/10/28/brexit-divides-the-uk-but-partisanship-and-ideology-are-still-key-factors/

    Unsurprisingly, there's also a correlation with education levels. 


    https://www.statista.com/statistics/572613/brexit-votes-by-education/#:~:text=In%20the%20Brexit%20referendum%20that,and%2035%20percent%20to%20Remain.

    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-education-higher-university-study-university-leave-eu-remain-voters-educated-a7881441.html

    It's interesting to compare these two graphs with each other. 

    Other articles note that the recent HS2 Rail cancelations by the PM Rishi Sunak may be in part to allow him to cut taxes just prior to an election next year, putting short-term political expediency ahead of long term national interests. The abrupt cancellation also promises to adversely affect future investments in Britain as companies who have already invested millions (and benefited the local economies) are now left out in the cold - not a good look for any future potential investors. 

    The deeper issue for Britain’s economic prospects is the ease with which politicians and Treasury bureaucrats can fiddle with long-term investment plans to satisfy short-term goals. The deleterious consequences of this systemic weakness are seen time and again, from crumbling concrete in schools to persistent underfunding of the health service. It also shows up in economic statistics. Britain invests less as a percentage of gross domestic product than any other Group of Seven economy. Public spending on infrastructure is only one factor in that equation but an important one nonetheless...

    Postponing or canceling the Birmingham-to-Manchester leg of HS2 would be another victory for political expediency over long-term interests. If Sunak’s government wants to cut taxes ahead of a likely general election next year, it needs to find money from somewhere. Investment budgets are always easier to cut than current spending, as the effects take longer to show up. They do show up eventually, though, as the state of Britain’s schools, hospitals and railways shows...

    The possible scrapping of the HS2 link has also come under fire from former Conservative chancellor, George Osborne, who in a joint article in the Times with Lord Heseltine, said it would be a "gross act of vandalism".

    They warned scrapping the route would be "an act of huge economic self-harm" and leave the North and Midlands "abandoned".

    Lord Heseltine told the BBC said it would also hit the UK's image.

    "The reputational damage to a country or a government that commits itself and encourages others to invest and commit themselves to a project which was claimed to be transformational and then to stop - the reputational damage is incalculable," he said.

    https://www.ft.com/content/617453cb-f075-497f-a615-7aef1099b46d

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2023/09/15/hs2-britain-s-incredible-shrinking-high-speed-railway/716cff20-53af-11ee-accf-88c266213aac_story.html

    https://www.bbc.com/news/business-66909732

    While it may not be the case here, those who whine about mixing politics with anything else are usually upset about their particular political position being shown in a bad light.  As the EU USB-C mess has shown, politics and technology are, have been, and will be, intertwined. Trying to ignore one part of that equation would be self-inflicted myopia. 
    edited October 2023
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