back to article Samsung, the Angel of Death: Exploding Note 7 phones will be bricked

Anyone still using a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 has ten days to return their device for a refund before Sammy kills the handset for good. The South Korean electronics giant says that an over-the-air update set for release on December 19 will effectively brick the devices for good, shutting off all phone and data connections and …

  1. Nate Amsden

    does this update require wifi ?

    (Note 3 person not Note 7)

    Just curious. e.g. I have been blocking AT&Ts attempts to install android 5.0 on my note 3 for probably 18 months now just by keeping wifi off 99% of the time since the update requires wifi to be enabled.

    (I have another ATT note 3 with the latest android 5 that is supported on it and still much prefer 4.4.4.)

    So just curious if people wanted to block the update might it be as simple as doing what I am doing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Coat

      Re: does this update require wifi ?

      I believe it requires WhyFry…

    2. iansmithedi

      Re: does this update require wifi ?

      Note 3 on Android 4.4.4? Ugh! I just updated my Galaxy S3 to Android 6.0 (thanks to Cyanogen). It works so much better. Android 4 was a dog in comparison.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Is this even legal in the EU?

    It's a question not an opinion - can they do this if the phone is not leased/rented via a carrier?

    I would just like to know.

    1. DNTP

      Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

      Now that a few have blown up I'm sure they can override mere property laws under public safety or anti-terrorism grounds. This phone has such a uniquely powerful and unstable battery using cutting edge lithium science technology, a terrorist could make a much bigger battery fire than with any other mobile device on the market. What if a pedo was using one to take pictures of kids and it blew up, harming the kids? Think of the kids.

      1. sysconfig

        Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

        I'm sure they can override mere property laws under public safety or anti-terrorism grounds

        What has the world come to...

      2. Lotaresco

        Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

        " What if a pedo was using one to take pictures of kids and it blew up, harming the kids? Think of the kids."

        Absolutely, one can never think of the kids too often. Errrm unless one happens to be a filthy paedo then thinking of even one child isn't permitted, ever.

        THINK OF THE CHILDREN

    2. stu 4

      Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

      I was thinking the same thing.

      I pay 600 quid for a thing.

      The manufacturer says some blow up and send them back..

      well I own it. It's mine. It's up to me whether I take that risk or not now I own it - not samsung.

      Maybe I love it. Maybe I got it as a present.

      Maybe the situation (not this one) is one avoided by doing or not doing certain things.

      Whatever, it's mine to do what I want with. I bought it as a phone/android device - I am pretty sure I would not have agreed to a 'we, samsung can fry the fecker whenever we feel like and you will be 600 quid out of pocket and get didlly squat'.

      ok - I know they say 'we have told folk to return for refund bla bla bla - so what ? It's MINE.

      I don't really see what legal ground they can possibly have for effectively killing it and I assume, not refunding me after the fact.

      In fact is this the first time in history something like this has been done ?

      1. company sells A

      2. company then effectively kills A remotely with no user choice in the matter.

      Only with IoT has this sort of thing been possible.

      The nearest I can think of is the CC getting cut up thing - you present card, shop gets alert, calls for check and is told to not give CC back to customer and cut it up - though that felt very wrong to be on receiving end of (no fault of mine at time), there argument was physical CC does not beling to customer but to bank - so we can choose to have someone destroy it.

      Really not the same here - you bought the hardware and the licence to run the software on it. You did not have to agree to run the samsung sh1t for example (hell I have an S6 and it was the first thing I gutted off their when I rooted it).

      It's no surprise Samsung think this is acceptable - this is the company up there with google as far as privacy and data rights is concerned - every mobile sucks your data through samsung account crap, backups, etc unless you disable it, their tvs even record your voice and upload it.. it probably seems entirely reasonable the them to destroy 600 pounds worth of hardware they don't own...

      1. Sloppy Crapmonster

        Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

        I upvoted you, then saw this was really a rant against a credit card you had revoked at some time in the past, then downvoted you.

        1. stu 4

          Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

          @Sloppy -really ?

          who cares why it was - maybe I'm a terrible thief. Maybe I had a newer card I'd used once. WTF has that got to do with my argument. jesus christ.

          5 downvotes - I expected more from commentards.

          let me try to be more specific.

          BLINDINGLY obviously in this case, samsung is doing what makes sense within the current law (or lack of them)

          1. they blow up

          2. it's the first time so no precedent.

          What about next time ?

          Where is the laws to stop this happening when say they decide to brick it to make you buy the new one, or because they don't like you (hell - since for Sloopy - you don't pay your bill on your unrelated but by same company 'evilcorp' credit card).

          May evilcorp pull out of supporting ireland/canada/fecking whitley bay and decide to geo brick all devices there ?

          Surely my point was clear enough to see that what I was getting at.

          Restore my faith that the educated commentard masses have not been replaced by SloopyFWs

          1. G Watty What?
            Facepalm

            Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

            "5 downvotes - I expected more from commentards."

            I can only downvote once :( I will try harder next time. Sorry.

          2. JaitcH
            Happy

            Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

            Our company served notice on Samsung that should our equipment be degraded they would be sued for a laundry list of civil claims.

            We were requested to bring our devices to a certain service centre (there are many in the country) whereupon a patch would be added that would remove existing, and prevent future, deleterious patch transmissions. The technician, who we have known for years, confirmed it is a 'good' patch and that several others have been given the same protection - after their lawyers contacted Samsung.

            We were not required to a sign any document although they 'hoped' we would be discrete with the information!

      2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

        Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

        There are ways to prevent the update from happening. So your argument is specious: what you bought was a system that would receive updates to improve the user experience. This is just an improvement, because a phone exploding in your pocket is an experience that can be improved by the mechanism described. If you prefer having your nads scorched, then you can take steps to avoid the update.

        The key point here is not that the device is being disabled because it's unfashionable, but because it's dangerous and people expect Samsung to make good damage caused by the thing exploding. So Samsung is *obligated* to make the thing safe, even if that means disabling certain functionality (like, e.g., it working), otherwise Samsung is complicit in the damage caused.

      3. x 7

        Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

        If - against all advice - you carry on using the device, it catches fire, causes a major incident (e.g. burns down a tower block or incinerates a train coach) and people die, where do you think your chances stand with the law? You'll be going down for a few years for manslaughter at least

        Its unsafe. You've been told its unsafe and you've been told not to use it. If you ignore that advice you're an idiot and deserve to have your ass reamed in jail

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

          Its unsafe. You've been told its unsafe and you've been told not to use it. If you ignore that advice you're an idiot and deserve to have your ass reamed in jail

          Not the case in the UK. There's been a known safety problem with some Whirlpool group tumble dryers for some years now, making them at risk of catching fire. The recall has been slow and ineffective, despite publicity the faulty machines are still causing fires (a recent one did set a towerblock ablaze, though no fatalities), and in other cases people have died. Whirlpool aren't in court (yet, certainly), and none of the users are likley to be sued or prosecuted. Look at the pictures on the link below, ask yourself why Whirlpool are still in business. By comparison Samsung,s actions on the Note 7 make them look like a corporate saint (although Samsung's risks are a tad wider, they're exposed to things like in-flight cabin fires, whereas I haven't seen many passengers operating tumble dryers in aircraft).

          http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-37203933

          1. Stuart Elliott

            Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

            @Ledswinger - Got my Indisit dryer fixed this week, 14 months after reporting :)

          2. BenR

            Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

            Again, Whirlpool publicly stated the issue, and a fix / recall.

            Same as with car fault recalls - they notify the owners and tell them to bring the item in / book an appointment for an engineer visit.

            Realistically, what else CAN they do when a post-sale, post-delivery fault is discovered with a product? If someone was killed before the recall, they'd be susceptible to a charge of corporate manslaughter i suspect. Once they've made the recall public, it's out of their hands somewhat. Samsung are in the position where it isn't out of their hands as they can "force" the recall - difficult to remotely disable a tumble dryer!

            1. tiggity Silver badge

              Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

              Whirlpool were pants.

              Many people waited more than a year for repair to be done - some still not repaired.

              They preyed on scared consumers with the - if you cannot wait for some massive unspecified time for repair, chuck us X amount of cash and we will instead give you a new machine at a good discount.

              We actually went for the bung us cash and get a new machine - purely because our "at risk" dryer was amongst the oldest of those affected & who knows how long it would have lasted without some (non dangerous) mechanical fault & we were getting a much better machine (functionality wise) . But for anyone where that offer was not attractive, then the massive repair waits really are indefensible when lives potentially at risk

        2. Spoonguard
          Mushroom

          Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

          If you can't remove the battery from it, you don't own it.

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

        > 'we, samsung can fry the fecker whenever we feel like and you will be 600 quid out of pocket and get didlly squat'.

        Err, no.

        The phone will stop working, but you can still return it to Samsung and get your replacement / refund. Bricking it remotely is to *force* you to take it back rather than carry on using it, as some lazy people will do.

        You'll only get "didlly squat" if you don't bother to return it.

      5. The IT Ghost

        Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

        Its worth noting that the money you paid was for the hardware - they aren't taking the slightest bit of that away from you. So, in a strict sense, you still have what you paid for, it doesn't do all the neat tricks it once did, but then again, what you purchased was...hardware. Really is this simple, friend. You can never buy software - not even open source. You buy a license and every license agreement says the publisher can pretty well do what they want with it, with or without your consent, and if you don't like it, too bad, you don't own the OS, the applications, or anything else. You bought a license to use it all in whatever form the publishers of all the various bits.

        So you bought hardware, and you can keep it for as long as you want. Eventually, you'd be wanting to trade the thing in for a shinier model with more stuff. Its just an earlier trade than one might normally do. And, Samsung *could* refuse to accept trade-in on these after a certain time - the trade-in won't be there forever. The longer you cling to "its MINE, I paid for it!" the more risk you have of shelling out 600 more for another...smarter to trade it in while it lessens the bill for the next generation, hopefully this time, a bit less of a "hot selling item".

      6. Andus McCoatover
        Windows

        Re: Is this even legal in the EU? - short memories?

        "In fact is this the first time in history something like this has been done ?

        1. company sells A

        2. company then effectively kills A remotely with no user choice in the matter."

        Apple and Error 53?

    3. Oh Homer
      Big Brother

      Undermining the right to property

      I realise that something faulty is better off in the bin, and that having the vendor/manufacturer willingly replace it for you is an equestrian gift you probably shouldn't subject to oral examination, but...

      just the idea that the vendor can remotely terminate your legally purchased property on a whim, potentially without your knowledge or consent, is something I find profoundly chilling. It undermines the very concept of property ownership.

      Sadly that's all too common in this "IP" regime. You bought it, but you don't really "own" it, as such. To me this seems like a sort of corporate communism. It's a way of removing the freedom of private ownership whilst pretending you still have that freedom, by blurring the lines between what constitutes "property" and what must be controlled by the "state", where the "state" in question comprises unelected private corporations.

      I don't think I'm overstating the significance of this. If your phone is fair game then potentially so is your home, your car or anything else, especially in this IoT era.

      That's why, whenever I buy something with its umbilical chord still attached to the company that supposedly "sold" it to me, I sever that chord post-haste, usually by wiping the offending "IP" in question and installing something I can control.

      Up until now I think most people considered that sort of "modding" to be purely a niche interest for geeks, but post-Snowden a lot of formerly "geek" paradigms are pushing into the mainstream consciousness. However, the NSA is only one of many threats to our civil liberties, and I'd suggest it's probably not the biggest, given the sort of power wielded by Big Money interests.

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Undermining the right to property

        It does.

        Welcome to the "Everything-as-a-Service" world.

      2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: Undermining the right to property

        Now you've done it, citizen. No more 1984 for you.

        www.theregister.co.uk/2009/07/18/amazon_removes_1984_from_kindle/

      3. EBG

        Re: Undermining the right to property

        I agree.

        This time it is for unarguable safety reasons, but it's still crossing a threshold. Next time for something with slightly, just slightly, less justification. Salami slice by salami slice.

    4. Lotaresco

      Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

      BUT BREXIT BABY! IT'S LEGAL IN FARAGEWORLD™.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Is this even legal in the EU?

      If it were an aircraft, the authority holding the type certification (i.e. the manufacturer) can withdraw the certification, at which point it suddenly becomes not legal to fly that type of aircraft, no matter who owns it. (This does happen, although only rarely; usually, the authority specifies that the type can't be flown until some sort of maintenance is performed when a design or operation problem is discovered.)

      This sort of legislation is completely impractical for electronic goods, even if the manufacturer has forgotten to disable the halt and catch fire instruction in the OS before shipping. So this becomes a question for the company of which is worse on the risk vs cost front. Samsung has decided that the risk/cost of allowing more devices to catch fire is worse than the risk/cost of annoying a large number of their own customers. i.e. they probably believe that the number of devices which will be prone to catch fire is large.

      Samsung has clearly decided that the cheapest option is not to keep the money already given to them by consumers, but to give it back to them, and then have to pay more money to get their devices disposed of. Speaking purely in a personal capacity, if I owned one of those devices, I *wouldn't* be blocking the update, I would be getting the device out of my possession as soon as possible.

  3. Herby Silver badge

    Maybe they should...

    Have the update display "return for refund" on the screen, and not do anything else. Might get the point across.

    Surrounding the message with flames is of course optional.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Surrounding the message with flames is of course optional.

      I guess in some cases this message will be surrounded by very, very realistic flames.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Maybe they should...

      I'm unconditional about it. Without question there is a design flaw that poses a very real safety concern in a very small but significant percentage of these devices. Yes the recall should be mandatory, but this solution fails to take into account that risks are always relative to other risks. Perhaps there is a risk that someone in possession of such a device can't make an emergency call in a timely manner? A better approach would be to include a nag screen that pops up every minute and forces you to watch some recall notice in 5 different languages, and otherwise limits the apps it will load. There are plenty of measures to make the experience so bad that laggers without a really good excuse will make the effort without adding any risks to safety.

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: Maybe they should...

        > I'm unconditional about it.

        Er, uncomfortable. Bloody autocarrot.

  4. Dwarf Silver badge

    Personal safety and a dangerous precident

    I wonder how many of the small percentage of people who will be in some form of critical situation (i.e. stuck on a rock face somewhere, travelling around the world etc) and will suddenly find themselves completely cut off because of this. Perhaps they would have returned the phone earlier if the operators didn't stick to other policies like their locking phones to a particular network which makes it difficult to get a replacement in other countries than where you purchased the phone. We are after all very mobile around this big ball of mud.

    Anyone got an idea of what will happen if you are with vendor X but roaming on vendor Y's network when this happens ??

    I'm also worried about the precedent this sets if a manufacturer can, after you have purchased a device decide to do a remote kill on it. Given the push towards the cloud and the always on approach for gadgets, then how long will it be before someone decides to kill all the fridges that are 3 days outside their warranty.

    Now lets do the same when a malicious actor does the same across a product range - perhaps a Tesla car that is in motion or similar.

    Suddenly the always-connected / cloud only economy doesn't look like such a good idea.

    1. Bob Dole (tm)

      Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

      I find it hard to believe that anyone who has purchased this phone is unaware of the hazard in keeping it.

      To be honest, I find Verizon's stance to be troubling because I can't envision what could possibly be riskier than one of these blowing up in your pocket.

      The only other thing I think Sammy could do is send an alert message to all of those remaining phones every day between now and when the kill code is released telling people to shut them off and return them.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

        Verizon thinks any traffic made before it catches fire is worth the risk. It's the same reason why stolen phones are not blocked.

    2. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

      You won't be traveling around the world using airlines, though.

    3. LDS Silver badge

      the precedent this sets if a manufacturer can

      IIRC Google bricked a perfectly functioning device, that IoT hub I don't remember the name of, and nobody mostly noticed. Samsung tries to stop using a device which can became very dangerous (if you want to keep one, please use it only in your isolated house, and nowhere near me), but some stubborn children wants to keep the shiny toy... oh, well, maybe it's just Darwin, there will be some less after some fires...

      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re: the precedent this sets if a manufacturer can

        Remember the Sony Playstation update that removed much-loved OtherOS functionality?

        I have to say that Samsung are in a hard spot here. Suppose they *didn't* take steps to render safe these devices, when they have a mechanism to do so. Are they then liable for increased damages? I bet you can find a lawyer who would say so.

        A better change might be one that destroys the ability of a battery to hold a charge (maximum chargelevel := 1%). The phone would still work when connected to an external power supply, then. Maybe there's no way to do that with an over-the-air update.

        Afterthought: you're never going to get 100% of phones turned in for refund, anyway. How many have been stolen, or dropped in the lav.?

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: the precedent this sets if a manufacturer can

          It sounds like that's pretty much what they're doing - disabling the charge function.

          So I guess they'll probably continue to work when plugged into a suitable PSU.

          As to "update bricking it in a dangerous situation" - don't be silly. Phone firmware updates only get applied automatically when on WiFi and plugged into power, overnight (phone time)

          You can only get an update to happen up a rockface if you deliberately started it!

    4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

      We are almost there with Fitbit/Pebble

      No more updates and I expect that the Pebble servers will be turned off once the deal closes. That basically bricks all the Pebble devices out there.

      If you had bought one in recent months I'd be off to the retailer demanding a full refund. The device does not do what it says on the box. We have to thank the EU laws for this. How long before we are like the USA where is is beholden upon the makers kindness to give us a refund outside the first 30 days.

      A plague on all of them.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

      If you own a Note 7 and put yourself in this situation knowing there's a recall because there's a fairly large risk your phone will explode/catch fire, then you're a moron and darwinism will soon take effect.

      Seriously, there's a recall on my tumble dryer as they've been catching fire. I have since had it replaced and will be seeking a refund as it wasn't very old, but you wouldn't see me keeping hold of that as my house could burn down. The whole thing is just ridiculous, why would you keep the device with such a staggeringly dangerous potential defect?

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

        The whole thing is just ridiculous, why would you keep the device with such a staggeringly dangerous potential defect?

        It doesn't matter: it is still the individual's choice. It is not for you, me, Samsung or anyone else to take that choice away from the owner. If I sell you my car only to decide a few days later I really shouldn't have done so and want it back, but don't worry, I'll give you your money back, you are free to accept the deal. You are also entitled to say "I'll sell it back for ten times what I paid" or more firmly a simple "No, it's mine now." That is the right over property that comes with ownership. The fact that the product is faulty does not diminish that right.

        I don't have an affected handset - personally I fail to see why anyone would spend so much on a bloody phone - but if I did this would simply make me dig my heels in the ground. I decide what happens to my property. If you vandalise it (what other term is there?) I will sue. Not for the purchase price of the device but the cost of an acceptable, functionally comparable replacement. If that costs thousands (or indeed has to be specially developed for me) I'll send you a bill. If that's a bit rich for you don't engage in criminality in the first place.

        1. Dave K Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

          Whether you want to be an idiot and hold onto a piece of dangerous technology is up to you. However, this fault has the potential to seriously harm other people. How would you feel if a loved one was killed because some idiot took one of these onto a train and it exploded and caused a fatal fire? Or the apartment building you lived in caught fire due to one of these - resulting in the destruction of your home?

          It's not just about you. Samsung has a duty to protect the other bystanders out there that might be caught up in this mess. Even after the device is bricked, you can still keep it if you want. However you can't use it as it poses a serious risk both you you, and others around you.

        2. Lotaresco

          Re: Personal safety and a dangerous precident

          "It is not for you, me, Samsung or anyone else to take that choice away from the owner."

          Even the most extreme libertarian (e.g. me) will disagree with you on this. It's a basic rule of any civilised society that the right to swing your fist ends at my nose. What you are complaining about here is that a manufacturer will not allow you to wilfully endanger third parties. The way these things work is that the person likely to be injured will be some innocent third party who didn't know that your explosive device was in your luggage/car/hotel room etc.

          There are many circumstances where we put limits on individual liberties. For example we tend to frown on people who carry round explosives in their pockets, those who drive at 100mph on the pavement even when they can see that it is clear, people who mix poisons in drinks bottles and leave them lying around because *they* know that the bottle contains a poison that just happens to look like Coca-Cola in a Coca-Cola bottle (etc.)

          There's a difference between advocating liberty and being purely selfish and thoughtless. You have crossed over the line.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I hope they send a message to the users saying that the phone will stop working a few days before they brick it.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Surely either/both Samsung/carrier have been sending automated texts to these people for a couple months now. If they're willing to take the risk (not just to themselves, but those around them) that it may burst into flames for no reason, they are certainly willing to take the risk it will stop working.

    2. Adam JC

      You mean like they have done since the issue first arose?

      Every single time you turn on a Note 7 you'll receive a warning about the recall. The idea that someone has a Note 7 and hasn't known about the recall is downright absurd.

  6. cd

    Might be the most prompt OTA phone update in history. Percentages of "burner" phones still pretty low. More of a legal issue.

  7. joed

    what about users' data?

    Can Samsung be held liable for pictures and other data no longer accessible on the bricked devices?

    1. Malcolm Weir Silver badge

      Re: what about users' data?

      What was stated that it would shut off battery charging and wireless functionality. USB target functionality is neither, so one might conclude that the thing will still work as a large thumbdrive...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bring back the customer replaceable battery.

    If this phone was customer friendly, that customer could change the battery, Samsung would not find itself in this pickle. Customer would just change the battery. I have the Galaxy S5 with two extra batteries for backup. They wanted to follow in the footstep of Apple so much apple envy they forgot they are actually not apple. Personally S5 is the last Samsung I will ever buy. I'm done with them.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: Bring back the customer replaceable battery.

      Too late for the battery and with the Galaxy S8 you won't have a headphone port either.

      Progress? Pah!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bring back the customer replaceable battery.

      For the *millionth* time, batteries were swapped out, made by a different supplier - And replacement handsets were issued. And guess what. THEY STILL EXPLODED. Really wish people would bother reading and keeping up with these stories if they're going to make uninformed comments.

    3. PaulR79

      Re: Bring back the customer replaceable battery.

      As someone else pointed out the battery is not the issue. They were replaced with other manufacturer's batteries and still had issues because the space around the battery is too small. The battery is not the issue, the size of the battery compartment is the problem. The only feasible fix I could see would be a physically smaller battery but I imagine after two failures Samsung just decided to kill the whole line as trust in their product was gone.

    4. Adam JC

      Re: Bring back the customer replaceable battery.

      That would be fantastic, if it were a battery problem. It's been established that changing the battery didn't work, they did two recalls - the first was to replace the battery.... which still resulted in them catching fire!

  9. PaulR79
    Stop

    Those keeping devices are fools at best

    From what I've read and seen it is a case of "when", not "if" a Note 7 will combust. The space left around the battery for thermal expansion (correct term to use here?) is so tiny that eventually the battery will fail. Some have gone sooner than others, some may take a day whereas others may last a day or less.

    There is a huge and very real risk and anyone that wants to keep their phone is being very foolish. I realise all phones are potentially explosive if the battery is pierced or damaged significantly but that is not the same as risk as merely using or charging. If I was Samsung I would push the update onto all devices with no user opt-out. There are consumer rights and there are safety concerns. I would hope that any drama lovers bringing consumer rights into it would be ignored in favour of the safety concerns.

  10. Lord Elpuss Silver badge

    Samsung *can* legally do this (probably).

    Question as to whether Samsung are legally able to enforce remote deactivation.

    Different regions have different laws concerning recall onus and methodology, but Samsung have liability and exposure here, and are required by law to apply remedy. As the manufacturer of the device, they cannot remove themselves entirely from the liability chain, and if somebody gets killed (or many somebodies, e.g. on an aircraft or a bus), they will still be in deep trouble even if they've taken all reasonable measures to ensure a complete recall. Hence the heavyhandedness in removing the problem product from the marketplace.

    As regards whether they're allowed to, the law generally requires demonstrable necessity, paucity of viable alternative and a mechanism to compensate for direct loss. if all of these are present and correct, the law may well support a forced recall.

    Example; a privately owned house is standing in the way of a public development, and the owner refuses to sell. The council applies for a Compulsory Purchase Order to force the owner to sell. Courts look very dimly on CPOs (and they are granted very sparingly), but depending on circumstances (absolutely necessary, no alternative, adequate compensation offer), a CPO may be granted if the development can be considered For The Greater Public Good. The homeowner is free to negotiate a settlement, but cannot refuse to sell.

    IANAL, but do work with lawyers in Contracts & Negotiations (and IP).

  11. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Predicted headlines starting on morning of 20th...

    Samsung accidentally bricks ALL Samsung smartphones

    Samsung Note 7 kill-patch wrongly addressed to 'all'

    Nearly a billion Samsung phones irreversibly bricked

    Financial impact of Kill-patch bankrupts Samsung

    South Korean economy topples - Norks assume control

    Norks control spreads, world enters new Dark Ages

    Last edition - goodbye and good luck

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Predicted headlines starting on morning of 20th...

      "Samsung accidentally bricks ALL Samsung smartphones

      Samsung Note 7 kill-patch wrongly addressed to 'all'

      Nearly a billion Samsung phones irreversibly bricked

      Financial impact of Kill-patch bankrupts Samsung

      South Korean economy topples - Norks assume control

      Norks control spreads, world enters new Dark Ages

      Last edition - goodbye and good luck"

      Thanks for the laugh this Monday! :D

  12. Haku

    I don't doubt we'll see a similar situation with cars in the future.

    Police already want to be able to remotely stop cars at will http://www.businessinsider.com.au/metropolitan-police-boss-hogan-howe-kill-switch-remotely-disable-stop-criminals-cars-2016-9

    This future world we're living is awesome and I can't possibly see a remote engine stop function ever being abused...

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I don't doubt we'll see a similar situation with cars in the future.

      On Star has been able to this for years.

    2. iansmithedi

      Re: I don't doubt we'll see a similar situation with cars in the future.

      And the government is virtually forcing smart electric meters on us, which have a remote kill switch too....

    3. Lotaresco

      Re: I don't doubt we'll see a similar situation with cars in the future.

      "This future world we're living is awesome and I can't possibly see a remote engine stop function ever being abused..."

      No, it's not as if the state security services would cause a vehicle to stop on a level crossing and then remove all video evidence after the inevitable crash.

  13. therebel

    I wonder if customers buying as part of a contract have been allowed to end that too. Not heard any stories but would have thought most retailers will be trying to give them alternative handsets rather than walk away.

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      I wonder if customers buying as part of a contract have been allowed to end that too. Not heard any stories but would have thought most retailers will be trying to give them alternative handsets rather than walk away.

      Considering that they were "rolling back" any upgrades to previous contract, it would be reasonable to deduce that same (effectively cancelling the contract) would apply to new contracts as well.

      Of course retailers were offering S7s as an option, but most Note customers specifically wanted the Note (otherwise they would've picked up S7 already).

  14. kain preacher Silver badge

    To the people say this is not legal, not right, it's my choice think about this. The unit explodes and catches fire in hotel. What about their rights. You rights end when what you do endangers others. Oh and that would open a sue bucket for sammy.

    time for bad car analogy. Suppose you buy a brand new car and the breaks defective. It's you property and it's your choice to drive with bad breaks . But what about the person you hit did they opt in ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @kp

      'brakes'

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: @kp

        looks backs and curses auto correct. Brakes arrrrg.

  15. jms222

    How long until they shut your phone down because they think you might have seen illegal content ? Or offended somebody ? Or their AI has deemed a 12% chance that it's been stolen ?

  16. Dave Harvey

    Should't a court decide on this?

    As many have commented above, there is a conflict here between the rights of the owner of the phone to continue using it, and the right to life etc. of those around that user. Whatever your perception is of those relative risks, there is undoubtedly a conflict, and the normal procedure for resolving such a conflict is to ask a court to issue an order before undertaking the action.

    Even if the order is unopposed (as it would probably be here), the responsibility would be transferred to the court, freeing Samsung of liability, and it would reduce the "slippery-slope" issues, by involving a 3rd party arbiter. Yes, there are issues of which country(s) to do this in, but that's what corporate lawyers are there to resolve!

    1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Should't a court decide on this?

      In this case I think the court will err on the side of caution - the manufacturer must be allowed to "brick" the existing devices so as to force their owners to return it.

      Because if Samsung doesn't do it, and another device goes up in flames in a hotel (or even worse, a high-rise building) and it causes loss of life and property, who will be at fault? The owner of the handset? Samsung?

      IMHO Samsung are doing the correct thing by forcing a recall of possible hazardous devices in order to prevent more loss of property and lives.

      1. Dave Harvey

        Re: Should't a court decide on this?

        I agree completely that it's what should happen, and that a court would almost certainly authorise it - my point is merely that that Samsung should go via the courts rather than act unilaterally.

        1. The IT Ghost

          Re: Should't a court decide on this?

          (I'm a bit late here)

          If a person has such a phone in his pocket and it explodes into flame...he'll sue Samsung for his injuries - and damage to his pants. C'mon, one idiot tried to sue a Verizon store for NOT STOPPING HIM from committing identity theft. Our phone-clinging, pants-afire litigant isn't going to accept personal responsibility for his misfortune either. Samsung didn't FORCE him to stop carrying the phone, did they? Given the number of such units sold, the number that actually DID catch fire, and the percentage of sold units unaccounted for *and* the fact that one cannot be sure how many of the unaccounted-for units might have still been used, the scenario here is far from "certain to happen", but lawyers make their living dreaming up unlikely, but possible, situations that could result in liability. Other lawyers with clients wanting to sue likewise spend a lot of time trying to find SOME way for as many parties as possible to be in some way "responsible" for their client's injuries/loss, and preferably, many of those have deep pockets and an interest in settling out of court for PR purposes.

  17. Huw D Silver badge

    Does this apply in the UK?

    The notice about the 19 December "bricking" appears to refer to US carriers?

    Samsung UK say that all they're doing is pushing out an update that limits the battery capacity

    http://www.samsung.com/uk/note7exchange/

  18. iansmithedi

    Verizon want their customers to burn

    Limits repeat business surely?

  19. DaveCummings

    I have a S7 Edge that blew up whilst charging suffering "Massive internal damage" which Samsung wont fix. it was caused by a fault in the handset. but they wont fix it..... Last time I buy anything samsung. Ever.

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