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2/8/2014
09:06 AM
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California Kill Switch Bill Targets Phone Thieves

California bill directs mobile hardware makers to include a way to disable stolen communications devices. Will privacy concerns be addressed?

Photo courtesy of West Midlands Police (Flickr).

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Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
2/10/2014 | 10:18:53 AM
Re: I'm not at all sure I'm in favor of this
@Rob intersting argument. The invisile hand will assure that whatever feature consumers demand will be included without government intervention.  
RobPreston
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0%
RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
2/10/2014 | 9:23:59 AM
Re: I'm not at all sure I'm in favor of this
Why is this a regulatory issue and not a market issue? If consumers really want a kill swtich, some company in the industry will provide it to those who want it, at a cost to the consumer and profit to the provider. It needn't be a forced option.  
Li Tan
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50%
Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
2/10/2014 | 4:03:03 AM
Re: Bad Idea
The initial idea seems to be great but the implementation details are of concern - how such kind of functionality can be done in real life is a question mark. How realiable it will be? How can we locate the stolen phone properly? Will the functionality be mis-used somehow?
Michael Endler
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50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
2/8/2014 | 5:36:35 PM
Re: Bad Idea
Yeah, this seems difficult to safely implement. I need to see a lot more to be convinced this isn't yet another good intention primed to run amok.
Michael Endler
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50%
Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
2/8/2014 | 5:33:09 PM
Re: a step in the right direction...
"Point being, often, people (especially women) say their phone was 'stolen' so they can be a victim of circumstance, instead of being empowered to make a decision."

I'm not so sure about that. It sounds awfully generalized and anecdotal. The article cites some compelling crime statistics. Living in San Francisco, where crime stories involving mobile devices are pretty common, I don't doubt that legitimate thefts result in billions of dollars in losses. Perhaps "lost" devices inflate figures a bit, and perhaps a kill switch isn't the answer, but more and more people are wandering around densely populated areas with no sense of their surroundings, totally absorbed in a tweet or text or whatever. It's not surprising that street robberies, generally a crime of opportunity, have ballooned.
Sam_Debater
IW Pick
100%
0%
Sam_Debater,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2014 | 5:14:37 PM
Innocent Victims
Just yesterday, I read an account of a man whose Twitter account was hijacked by someone who managed to gain control over the man's domain name and email. None of the services would help him. In order to regain control of his domain name, he had to give up his Twitter name. What is to ensure that only the rightful owner of a cell phone could disable it? How do you know who is the rightful owner? How secure is this system? 
JohnM818
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JohnM818,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2014 | 3:50:21 PM
Don't trade Real security for "phoney" security
We're talking about a centrally programmable means to disable private communications not to mention the backdoor such technology may create to listen even if bulk collection is thwarted.
 
I think it's terribly naive to think technology won't become the means to stifle unwanted political speech (it is already that).
This programming will require a means to makea a low level change to the device's hardware layer, and that will require a secure means to ensure the only person who can authorize the change is the device owner. But in technology today there's no truly secure means to do anything. Any such technology that you try to set up will potentially be used for nefarious purposes, possibly on a grand scale and possibly be misused by goivernment authorities as well. I pray that this bill is stopped as it may open a flood gate to security breeaches. You're better off to lose the device than to open that door.  
 
YosarianT073
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50%
YosarianT073,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2014 | 3:13:40 PM
Bad BAD idea
Do what I did, spam Mark Leno's inbox with how you feel about this Orwellian BS. Just put the address for his office lol it passes the filter. 50% of robberies? LOL that's because when you call and tell them your phone was stolen (because "I lost it" "isn't covered") it gets reported as a robbery. Good freaking lord people are dumb.
anon6297107716
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50%
anon6297107716,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2014 | 3:06:18 PM
Re: a step in the right direction...
To deter thieves it would be better to have a small built-in explosive charge that could be activated by the victim (text "86thief" to the phone) and set off when the perp tries to use the stolen phone.
ObadiahC218
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50%
ObadiahC218,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/8/2014 | 2:49:14 PM
Kill Switch could be a very good idea
One very good thing that could come out of the addition of a 'kill switch' - phones could be set to automatically cease operation in the proximity of a car's driver seat, making it impossible to text or call while driving (or operating a train, or airliner for that matter). Preventing distracted driving "accidents" would be a fantastic use for this technology.
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