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back to article We want to put a KILL SWITCH into your PHONE, say Feds

US law enforcement is calling for a mandatory kill switch on all mobiles, enabling the shut down of stolen phones in the hope of rendering them worthless. Mobile phone theft keeps rising, with one in three US robberies involving mobile kit, apparently. A coalition of US law enforcement agencies calling itself "Secure our …

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Bad idea

Why? Kill switches can be used for other purposes than disabling *stolen* phones. Do you trust your government?

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Joke

Re: Bad idea

On an unrelated news, USA is experiencing a new kind of terror attack after a foreign intelligence service triggered the "phone kill switch" for the whole country.

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Re: Bad idea

"The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain."

-- Scotty

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Mushroom

Re: Bad idea re: tchou

So all it would take is a programmer to insert a single 'not' statement into the code, and we'd all be fucked.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Bad idea

" Do you trust your government?"

About as far as I can throw those fucktards.

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JDX
Gold badge

Re: Bad idea

Oh no, the government can kill my phone. Hardly near the top of my worries, like having them block my bank account.

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WTF?

Re: Bad idea

"Do you trust your government?"

To do what? To carry out the primary duty of government, which is to create an environment within which we can reasonably seek a good life for ourselves, by it in part combatting crime and terrorism? Well every time I read that it's been doing this, such as by properly snooping on internet users, I trust it more; and every time I fear it may listen to people like you who would forego and protest against every protection against a Hobbesian state of nature, I trust it less. Why should an object or transmission portal being high-tech render it somehow sacrosanct as though it were some sovereign space beyond the reach of any state?

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Re: Bad idea

"you will put a kill switch in this phone or we will make it impossible for you to live."

Just remember that every diktat from government comes with a "or we will make it impossible for you to live" attached to it, and you'll see that dictating this over a fucking phone is perhaps a little bit psychotic.

But then this is a government we're on about. They are good at using sledgehammers on nuts.

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Re: Bad idea

"On an unrelated news, USA is experiencing a new kind of terror attack after a foreign intelligence service triggered the "phone kill switch" for the whole country."

You say that like its a bad thing...

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Alien

This is taking the piss

Prism, then cars, now phones that kill themselves for your comfort and security. Must be getting near the reptilian overlords' harvest time

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Stop

KISS

Does the police really expect that the desperate robber turns his life around simply because he can't use/sell the stolen phones? How about forbidding / regulating the other risk factors:

- Jewelry is only legal if worn with a gun.

-Wallets must incinerate their content when they are opened by unauthorized persons.

-Expensive sneakers and clothes are not allowed to show distinct 'brand features' that would identify them to robbers.

Really, it should be between the seller and customer to distinguish between useful and superfluous functions. Keep it simple.

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Re: KISS

>> Wallets must incinerate their content when they are opened by unauthorized persons.

-"Hey look, someone lost his wallet!"

-"Maybe the adress is inside"

-"Ho! Wait.."

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Joke

Re: KISS

>>- Jewelry is only legal if worn with a gun.

That's already the case if you're in a gang.

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Thumb Up

Re: KISS

"-Expensive sneakers and clothes are not allowed to show distinct 'brand features' that would identify them to robbers."

Actually, I support that one. I refuse to buy any clothes where you pay extra for the brand name AND for the privilege of advertising it for them.

The next stage is to ban advertising of these brands aimed at children.

I don't like the idea of the kill switch, though.

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Re: KISS

"I refuse to buy any clothes where you pay extra for the brand name AND for the privilege of advertising it for them."

Yup. A discrete label or logo I'll accept. But "MEGA-CORP ULTRA TOGS" across....not so much.

I am reminded for a MAD cartoon with a guy wearing a T-shit that said: Meet a schmuck who pays to give free advertising to a multi-billion dollar company.

(Or something like that)

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Headmaster

Re: KISS

Discrete or Discreet? Both can be applicable, but I'm not too sure which is better.

I'm in the discrete bin myself; if I think the clothes are good, I'll tell people that. Although a small logo isn't the end of the world, especially if the clothes are in fact well made and comfortable.

And the tags sewn into shirts always seem to be made to dig holes in the spine anyhow.

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Pirate

Re: KISS

"Actually, I support that one. I refuse to buy any clothes where you pay extra for the brand name AND for the privilege of advertising it for them."

OOh you freetard you.

By putting their trademark into the item is the only way they can protect their IP (no copyright on clothes)

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Re: KISS

"Expensive sneakers and clothes are not allowed to show distinct 'brand features' that would identify them to robbers."

Bring it on … I'm fed up of paying top dollar just to become a walking billboard.

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Happy

Re: KISS

I just buy clothes that fit, I like, and that I am willing to pay for, but I am ‘brand aware’, for instance the last 3 pairs of trainers (3 over 6 years that is) I have brought have all been Nike, for a number of reasons, for some reason Nike size 10s are slightly wider than other main brands size 10s, without being big clunky skater shoes like DC’s or Airwalks, but still on the ‘comfort’ side of things.

Because it’s Nike you can guarantee 90% of shoe stores will have some, so I can go in to any store, find a pair of size 10s Nikes that look like my old ones and buy them without bothering to try them on. I have never paid more than £25 for a pair, and for £25 I know they will last around 3 years, that’s £8.30 a year for a decent good looking comfy pair of trainers that I can wear every day, even when they have been in the washing machine a couple of times. I spent £30 on some airwalks once and they lasted about 6 months before they looked terrible.

As I said I have brought 3 pairs in 6 years, but that’s due to a shoe from one pair being lost at a music festival, and the replacement pair being eaten by a German Shepard two years later, I am now on my 3rd pair of shoes in 6 years.

Btw I dont work for Nike

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Angel

"Dear customer,

your pricey mobile was terminated by Federal authorities.

We took good note that it wasn't stolen (or so you say), alas, in this case your 5 years warranty won't work as it is not a product or service fault.

We encourage you to see this matter with the involved authorities.

We gently remind you that in any case this is a good opportunity to renew your hardware and confidence in us.

Cheers,

Microsoft/Apple/Samsung/Whatever"

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You forgot: 'While you will no longer be able to use your phone we have left NSA tracking functionality in place for your safety in order to protect you from terrorists.'

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Anonymous Coward

Dear customer,

your pricey mobile was terminated by Federal authorities

remarkably similar to the note someone I know got from the US TSA after they mistakenly checked in a locked case onto a transatlantic flight - at other end it arrived on carousel wrapped in a plastic bag as the locking catches had all been broken to open the case. In side was a letter saying something along the lines of "Dear traveller, for your added safety and security we've just broken your case"

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Flame

"we've just broken your case"

Yes, I've had that happen. They didn't break the unlocked case, though. The fuckwits just cut the metal zip toggle that the padlock was dangling from. The actual "lock" was a twist-tie, just to stop the zip coming adrift when the baggage monkeys were throwing it around, but noticing that was clearly way above the IQ of a TSA inoperative.

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Big Brother

@Phil O'Sophical

Similar thing here at SFO. The morons pried the catches off the wife's instrument case because they must have been stymied by the push buttons. The TSA padlock on the center locking eye they managed just fine though and it was the only thing holding the case shut when she went through customs.

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Facepalm

TSA

Heh. That happened to my dad; he had his luggage arrive at the other end in a similar fashion. By the way, the note also said something along the lines of "You had a non-compliant lock, so we had to break it open and it is all your fault. TSA won't pay up anything if you are missing stuff."

So not only do they break open your stuff, they basically give anyone else a free pass to steal your stuff!

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Big Brother

Re: TSA

"TSA breaks guitars"

There could be a youtube hit in it - but only if you never want to fly anywhere ever again.

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Yeah, its about protecting your stolen phone - seriously?

The reason they want this is obvious - its so that if they discover a phone is going to be used as a remote trigger for a bomb they can remotely kill it and stop the detonation. Or if there's an attack the can kill all the terrorists phones and stop them coordinating.

Seriously el reg you swallow this "its to stop stolen phones" line?

As if the Feds give a flying what happened to your shiny iphone...

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Thumb Down

Re: Yeah, its about protecting your stolen phone - seriously?

No, that can't be it. If they believe that a phone is going to be used as a trigger for a bomb, all they have to do is ask (or require) the phone company to disconnect that phone number (or better, for evidence-gathering, to divert the phone number to their evidence-gatering facility). If they can't do this today, it's a relatively uncontroversial bit of legislation to fix it so they can.

On the other hand I can see why they might want to permanently kill every phone within 100m of a demonstration at which police brutality was happening. Other things like that. And of course, it's completely impossible that some hostile foreign government might get its hand on the kill switch for every mobile phone in the USA. Isn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yeah, its about protecting your stolen phone - seriously?

Actually, there is scope for more painful stuff to happen. A LOT of coordination is done via mobiles - imagine someone coming up with a box that snarfs everything in the vicinity, then pushes out a kill signal to what it finds.

Don't like the idea? Then leave well alone. Kill switches are IMHO a bad idea.

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Mushroom

Re: Yeah, its about protecting your stolen phone - seriously?

"The reason they want this is obvious - its so that if they discover a phone is going to be used as a remote trigger for a bomb they can remotely kill it and stop the detonation."

They'd be a bit buggered if the bomb was set to detonate automatically if it didn't get called regularly with 'cancel' codes!

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Re: Yeah, its about protecting your stolen phone - seriously?

"all they have to do is ask (or require) the phone company to disconnect that phone number"

It's unlikely they would know exactly which phone was being used as a trigger and far easier to just jam the signals in an area to prevent the call from coming in. I agree that bricking every nearby device to eliminate the possibility of evidence of police misconduct being posted to youtube is a better possibility.

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WTF?

Re: Yeah, its about protecting your stolen phone - seriously?

They will already disable the mobile network in that case... and really would they know the IMEI in that case??

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Boffin

Cellphone remote detonation

The problem with these devices is that theoretically someone might think ahead and fit the device with the infamous dead man's switch ... that is, activate on call or on signal loss/disconnection. Oopsie, cops just blew up everyone with their jammer/killswitch!

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First a kill switch in your phone

Then in your brain.

How long till TSA fit all foreigners with one on entry?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: First a kill switch in your phone

Who would want to enter? ;)

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Anonymous Coward

Apple coincidentally?

they just got hold of some well-placed source. In time.

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Happy

Re: Apple coincidentally?

Here in the US the biggest push has been from Washington DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier. She has been having well publicized 'power meetings' with wireless carriers and device manufacturers for a couple of years. She's on the radio at least once or twice a month talking up her progress. She's got big public safety and awareness programs about keeping your iPhone concealed as apparently the iPhone is the biggest target for hoodlums to deliberately target so she has been extra focused on Apple for years: 'Cracking Down on Apple Picking' she calls it. Stealing mobiles even has a special charge associated with it.

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Black Helicopters

Leave this to the manufactorer: NOT the government

I have a Windows phone (WP 7.5), which I happen to like too, and guess what? It already has such a feature which I can also chose to turn on or off: "Find your phone". It sends my phone identifier to Microsoft, optionally along with some other information I can opt in to send them (search results, spoken text results, etc.).

The next part is my Microsoft account or ID. I can attach my phone to my Microsoft account thus giving me direct remote access to my phone using their Windows phone website.

This access can then be used for all sorts of things. I can browse their app store using my PC and after I decide that I want something I can tell it to send the app to my phone straight away. But I can also tell my phone to ring, lock or even format (erase) itself.

Why would I need the government for that?

I don't think this is for the better good; it's for their own good. Maybe I'm paranoid, could be, but I wouldn't be surprised if the next step would be attaching said kill switch to voice recognition software. You know: you're mentioning "let's bomb the bass tonight" and all of a sudden your connection is gone and 5 minutes later you got police all over you for suspicious activities... "But I was going to a dance party? Acid you know, stuff from the 90's?" "Oh, poison is involved too? Tell it to the judge you damn terrist!".

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Stop

Kill Switch Hack

So then along comes the Norks with a preemptive strike. Do they launch nukes, mobilize their army.. no , they hack the kill switch function of all modern phones, leaving only the folks in India with the Asha, Chinese Android clones and that dreadful Tesco mobile with big buttons my mother uses as viable communication devices.

The western world goes into temporary meltdown. Not because their phones have been 'killed' but people are no longer getting their commutes worth of liking video's of kittens playing the piano on Facebook and Stephen Fry irrelevancies on Twitter.

Much to the dismay to the Norks the positive side effect of killing mobile infrastructure is that for a couple of months, westerners start talking to each other and reading books once again - until the mad scramble for new un-kill-able smart phones is release in short order by MicroNokia and we all start sporting Windows Phone 8 devices as it'll take Apple a year to bring a new device out and Samsung don't give a crap.

Thus the moral of the story is , If they install a kill switch into our phones WinPho8 becomes market leader.

Let's fight this outrage before we all have to start reading books again and buying Finnish.

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Useless Move

Like motorcyles/cycles they will then just be stolen and striped for parts

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Trollface

Re: Useless Move

They only get striped if they've been spotted.

The whole business has a chequered past.

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WTF?

This makes little sense. What's to stop the crooks just buying an unlocked phone using a false name/address? It will never be reported stolen, and not associated with a criminal, so there would never be occassion or reason to kill it.

Unless, of course, they plan to ban the sale of any phone unless proof of identity is provided. Tantamount to requiring you to have a license for your cellphone. I can see them trying it, I can't see it working.

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Anonymous Coward

First phase in changing the rules of phone ownership i.e. 'renting' your phone....?

Do we trust the comms service providers and manufacturers to not abuse these rules? i.e. Is this really the first phase in 'renting' your phone, where a corp can disable the phone on a whim? What if they start selling packages that give you 3 years with a phone before it is shut off remotely? What if you leave your Telco and move elsewhere, can the provider then kill your phone? Or what if you buy a cheap subsidized iPhone in the USA, then bring it elsewhere and have it unblocked. Can the Telco then remotely kill the phone from the USA? ... What if mistakes are made and the wrong phone is killed? Can that phone receive a reactivation or is it dead permanently? ....Lots of questions... Few answers....

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Yeah

Like NOTHING will go wrong with that! This should be left to the end-user/owner. Education is the key, not restrictions on use.

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Black Helicopters

If anybody buys in to this

They need to be bitch slapped.

What about CB and ham radio?

What about WiFi?

This is such a monumental amount of bullshit. All this is for is so that they can kill our phones when they start taking action against us to keep us from letting the rest of the world know.

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Back door already there no doubt. Get the iMessage?

Obviously they already control it so they want to extend that to Android.

We know why IOS location tracking is stil there and only ahd partial removal.

Is that important when many Android phones are sold without the marketing markup?

IMEI blocking should be enforced round the world via a stolen register !

We dont need big brother for that!

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Flame

We Would NEVER Target Political Enemies

So besides the IRS we have to worry about them turning off our phones too?

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It woud be OK if...

It were controllable only by the owner of the phone, not the government. All it would take is to dial the number and enter a code known only to the owner. Zap - dead phone. Anything else is asking for government abuse.

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Re: It woud be OK if...

You'd think anyone nicking a phone wouldn't think to bring a Faraday bag like people use to get nicked clothes out of department stores and the like. If it can't get the kill signal, it can't be killed. And you can't use cell phone reception as a vigilance control. One big blackout or trip to the sticks would kill the phone.

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Re: It woud be OK if...

"You'd think anyone nicking a phone wouldn't think to bring a Faraday bag like people use to get nicked clothes out of department stores and the like. If it can't get the kill signal, it can't be killed. And you can't use cell phone reception as a vigilance control. One big blackout or trip to the sticks would kill the phone."

A few anti theft apps available to rooted Android phone owners can brick the device if the sim is changed, no signal needed. Avast antitheft has this option if I recall.

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