Comments
California Smartphone Kill-Switch Law: What It Means
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mstechie
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mstechie,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/29/2014 | 10:59:19 AM
Secure Profiles
This is more of a question rather than a statement. I am concerned about where the kill switch data or profile is stored at. Is there going to be some central repository or is it based on carriers? I am asking this because apparently there will be some type of Web interface. Will the profile data all be stored on the phone? How secure is this process? Is there a risk of the repository of 'kill switch profiles' being hacked then a mass number if phones could be killed at once. How is this different from Find My Phone or LookOut? Ok, this is more like a short list if questions.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
8/29/2014 | 12:20:51 PM
How do you kill it?
Where and how do you actually activate a kill switch? Via a website?
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
8/29/2014 | 12:32:47 PM
Re: How do you kill it?
>Where and how do you actually activate a kill switch? Via a website?

That's the way Apple does it, via iCloud's Find My iPhone. But the law doesn't spell that out so Google, for example, could implement it in a variety of ways. A website makes sense but it could be set up to trigger via a specific text message code, a specific phone number, or some other criteria -- the software listening for the kill message could in theory listen for any distinct event.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
8/29/2014 | 12:42:30 PM
Re: How do you kill it?
Thanks Tom. But if your smartphone is gone, a text message code won't do you much good. A phone number you could call to activate the kill would work. But it seems a website covers the bases best. Whatever the medium, it should be quick and easy for an owner to pull the trigger.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
8/29/2014 | 4:52:13 PM
Re: How do you kill it?
Here's my 2 cents,

In many third world countries, people have been badly hurt (even killed) for a phone, so the having a way to completely disable a phone it's a really good meassure

 

But like @Shane mentiones, some people might not have access to a computer in a street, but might be able to make a call from a restaurant or other location, so if the kill switch can be activated by calling a number and entering a PIN, it would allow for greater efficiency.
gvandunk
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gvandunk,
User Rank: Strategist
8/30/2014 | 9:44:26 AM
Re: How do you kill it?
The current iPhone kill switch works.  However most of the people who steal these devices know about it so the first thing they do is turn the phone off so it can not be traced.  This was my personal experience.  I went to iCloud within minutes and it could not find my phone.  The authorities are correct in that it has decreased theft some since the phones can not currently be resold and reactivated which was what made them valuable before.  They are however sold for parts much like the bulk of stolen cars.  There is a large secondary market for screens, batteries etc to fix broken phones. Repairing phones is a good business and if you can get quality used parts your margins increase. I am sure a good portion of the "street" vendors that do repairs use the parts. Unfortuneately people create the demand as they are the ones looking for a cheaper alternative to going to the manufacturer for repair.
Henrisha
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Henrisha,
User Rank: Strategist
8/30/2014 | 1:47:34 PM
Re: How do you kill it?
More options on activating the kill switch seem to be in order. They can be rolled out one after the other, perhaps in some countries where some options might not be as practical (ie. adding the phone option.)

Living in a third world country where people have been beaten up or worse, stabbed for their phones--it's high time for some deterrents that they can't get past, rendering stolen phones pretty much useless.
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 4:25:34 PM
Re: How do you kill it?
Actually, text messaging would be great. Someone snatches your phone while you are out with friends? No problem! Borrow their phone and text the "kill phrase" to yours and it's shutdown in seconds. Also, there are multiple websites that allow you to text any phone in the US. It's a reasonable way to handle the problem yourself.
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
9/2/2014 | 4:32:26 PM
Re: How do you kill it?
Ok, I see. You can send a text message to kill it. I was thinking you would need to receive a text to kill it. Doh. Silly me. 
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
8/29/2014 | 5:07:20 PM
to really deter them
If you want to prevent cell phone theft this is a decent way to protect the info on the phone, but shouldn't it be coupled with an alarm type of GPS device so when it's activated you can find out where theif took it, preferrably with a loud blaring noise emitting from the phone to declare this phone was stolen? Do that and it makes stealing a phone a liability not just less desirable.
Henrisha
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Henrisha,
User Rank: Strategist
8/30/2014 | 1:46:15 PM
Re: to really deter them
I agree with you. There has to be something more than a kill switch, although I won't disagree since I think it's a useful option to have as well. But something that's a bigger deterrent, that's what I would like to see too.
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 9:12:26 AM
Re: to really deter them
@kstaron,

If I'm not mistaken, cell phones are alreardy enabled to allow for GPS location (unless it's one of those burner phones).

I think the fact that a phone can't be re-sold is suffcient to make it's theaf not even feasible. This will also lead for the smarphone "black market" to dissolve, since the support required to unlock stolen phones would start fading.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:19:07 AM
Re: to really deter them
meijac,

If the Authorities wish to they can easily shut off entire Cellphone networks as well as go for Targetted Blocks (via IMEI Numbers) as they feel fit.

The Kill Switch feature just feels like a way to tighten their Control over ordinary citizens even more.

You have to beholden to the Totalitarian State in its Entirety.

Nothing more.

Regards

Ashish.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:55:46 PM
Re: to really deter them
@ashu001- Well if the IMEI is blocked by the network someone could use it for other purposes such as browsing over Wi-Fi, listening to music etc. But the kill switch is much more secure. 
tkeller852
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tkeller852,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/30/2014 | 7:49:24 PM
Kikll switch pretty low value.
None of this will do any practical good until authorities are willing to act on such thefts.  Mine was stolen, I activated the child tracking feature and reported the exact trailer house in the exact trailer park in west Phoenix where the phone was located and provided the Google earth image of it.  They told me to use my phone insurance.
stotheco
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stotheco,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 10:51:14 AM
Re: Kikll switch pretty low value.
Wow, that was such a lackluster response from the authorities! Inexcusable too, considering this was a case of theft. Did they give any reason for not taking further action?
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:15:51 AM
Re: Kikll switch pretty low value.
Keller,

Wow! That's a scary story.

Why do you think the Authorities took such a step?[Total Non-Action].

Is it because they are strapped for resources chasing more Violent Crimes ,etc .

Or is it because the Trailer Park which you located your phone to is extremely influential Politicially?

Very Interesting case.

 
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
8/30/2014 | 10:08:20 PM
Start the clock
I give it til the end of the year before crackers (the correct terminology to describe blackhats, cyber and other techno criminals) find a way to reverse engineer the kill switch. 
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 9:18:16 AM
Re: Start the clock
@asksqn,

Nothing is impossible, and you're correct, it's a matter of time, but if things start to become increasingly more difficult, the attraction to steal phones may start to fade away.

Another factor to consider is that most of today's smartphones are being constantly pushed an update, and require credentials to install apps, so this will also lead people to not buy stolen phones simply because of the fact they won't be able to get further updates.

And again, like you mention, it's only a matter of time before they find work arounds for that too...but in today's consumer oriented market, users will most likely stay away of hacked phones (at least the non-techys)
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:13:03 AM
Re: Start the clock
Meijac,

Are you 100% sure?

What if someone offered you the same phone for 50% less than the Market Price?

Would you not be tempted then?

Also,lets not forget what also happens with most Phones is that they get stripped for their Extremely Valuable Spare parts quite frequently on the Grey Market.

In that sceanario,I don't think most Consumers would care/Know about Stolen Phones.

Regards

Ashish.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:57:16 PM
Re: Start the clock
@Ashu – yes if someone offers you a phone for 50% most of us would buy it without knowing that it's a stolen phone, and finally we will face the consequences. 
mejiac
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mejiac,
User Rank: Ninja
9/2/2014 | 3:55:14 PM
Re: Start the clock
@Ashu001,

Very true, and there is high demand in a market where consumers have less buying power, specially in third world countries.

Like everything else, nothing will ever be theft proof, but providers and manufacturers try to limit it as best as they can.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
9/23/2014 | 1:07:04 PM
Re: Start the clock
meijac,

You know what could be really-really cool?

If you had Smartphones/Smartwatches which had the ability to "TAZE" attackers just like in those Bond Movies;they would be best-sellers amongst Women everywhere.

Sure,On One Charge you won't get more than a couple of Tazes at best.

But it would be Mega-useful for Women ,especially those who work Late Nights everywhere.

What do you think?

Wonder what's stopping Smartphone Companies from developing something along those lines today.
BillB031
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BillB031,
User Rank: Strategist
8/31/2014 | 10:05:08 AM
Government activated kill switch
"Authorities have the legal right to interrupt telecommunications services"

 

I'm not so warm and fuzzy about allowing the Government to have control over my device. 
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:10:17 AM
Re: Government activated kill switch
Bill,

I have to concur wholeheartedly.

Especially when it comes to a Government which has so effectively trampled over Civil Rights as this one;One has every reason to be wary.

Have you read about the ICREACH Search Engine Developed especially for the NSA ;which is now outsourced to Government Agencies in the UK and Australia too?

Beyond Scary.

Regards

Ashish.
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:58:51 PM
Re: Government activated kill switch
@BillB031 – yes authorities have the legal right to interrupt telecommunications services, but do they really have to do this? What's the ultimate objective?
BillB031
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BillB031,
User Rank: Strategist
9/1/2014 | 7:36:56 AM
Re: Government activated kill switch
Seems like the Government is less concerned about theft, and more about disabling potential organizing of civil insurrection of one form or another....  Why the heck does the government care if you left your cell phone in a bar somewhere, or somebody lifted it out of your unlocked car?  
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
9/1/2014 | 10:48:58 AM
Re: Government activated kill switch
This is a tricky thing - even if we activated kill switch by law, how about those legacy phones? They will exist for long time and the effect of the law will materialize only in the long run.
Ashu001
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Ashu001,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:06:45 AM
I am amazed that Privacy Concsious Folks have'nt made more Noise over this Issue.
Guys,

I am amazed that more folks at organizations like EFF,etc have'nt raised a hue and cry over this issue.

I know Phone Manufacturers are pretending that Governments won't have any control over the "Kill-Switch" but Looking at their past track record;What's to stop Phone companies from Shutting Phones of anyone and everyone who they Believe to be a "Dissident"?

Guessing that's because it has'nt become a Law yet and even if it does it will be largely restricted to California only.

Regards

Ashish.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 10:56:08 PM
confused
I live in Oregon. If I go to LA and buy a phone there at a retail store, because is somehow cheaper, does the kill switch law apply to me? According to the article, it doesn't. So, I'm not required to activate it, right?, but If I want to -just as a security measure-, who is gonna disable it in case it got stolen and I recover it?
shamika
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shamika,
User Rank: Ninja
8/31/2014 | 11:53:50 PM
Re: confused
The kill switch is great to ensure your data is safe and no one could use your phone if its stolen. This will indirectly reduce phone theft. 
tkeller852
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tkeller852,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/1/2014 | 11:27:18 PM
More on low value
I wondered just why the essentually no response attitude on the part of the local authorities but did not get a straight answer about it.  i would be surprised if the park is well connected from it's overhead appearance.  I got the idea they just consider the value of a cell phone not worth their attention.  They would, I am sure, if pressed claim insufficient resources.
escher
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escher,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/3/2014 | 4:44:28 AM
Slippery slope
What's next - installing a chip in our children to turn them catatonic if kidnapped?
Jeffrub1
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Jeffrub1,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/3/2014 | 4:18:30 PM
Unpredictable data safety
While the specter of disabled devices will likely reduce hardware theft, the possibility of immediate SIM pull or turned-off-radio blocking the disablement means that data mining will still be a threat.  This is especially troubling for businesses who may harbor hope that the new capabilities will effectively eliminate corporate data breaches on BYOD devices.


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