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Thu Jun 13, 2013, 11:53 PM

Law enforcement demands smartphone 'kill switch'

Source: NBC News

Police and prosecutors from across the country told smartphone manufacturers on Thursday that they must take steps to solve the “epidemic “of thefts involving mobile devices – and they need to do it right away.

A coalition of law enforcement officials, political leaders and consumer groups, called the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S) Initiative, wants a “kill switch” installed on all new smartphones that would make them useless anywhere in the world if they are reported stolen.

They want all smartphones equipped with a kill switch by early next year and they don’t want customers to foot the bill for this security technology.

.......

The theft of mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – is now called “the fastest-growing street crime” in America. People across the country have been stabbed and mugged at gunpoint for their electronic devices, which are easy to resell. A stolen iPhone can fetch $300 or more on the black market.

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/law-enforcement-demands-smartphone-kill-switch-6C103159420

46 replies, 3831 views

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Arrow 46 replies Author Time Post
Reply Law enforcement demands smartphone 'kill switch' (Original post)
Redfairen Jun 2013 OP
Spitfire of ATJ Jun 2013 #1
wtmusic Jun 2013 #10
leftyohiolib Jun 2013 #23
Swede Atlanta Jun 2013 #31
leftyohiolib Jun 2013 #32
loli phabay Jun 2013 #42
Spitfire of ATJ Jun 2013 #39
warrant46 Jun 2013 #25
booley Jun 2013 #34
ElsewheresDaughter Jun 2013 #38
ZombieHorde Jun 2013 #2
glinda Jun 2013 #3
Live and Learn Jun 2013 #4
Dawson Leery Jun 2013 #5
azurnoir Jun 2013 #8
kentauros Jun 2013 #30
BlueStreak Jun 2013 #6
onehandle Jun 2013 #22
flamingdem Jun 2013 #7
Half-Century Man Jun 2013 #9
SCVDem Jun 2013 #11
Kablooie Jun 2013 #12
Poll_Blind Jun 2013 #13
awoke_in_2003 Jun 2013 #14
ErikJ Jun 2013 #15
AtheistCrusader Jun 2013 #16
Amimnoch Jun 2013 #18
JustAnotherGen Jun 2013 #20
felix_numinous Jun 2013 #17
midnight Jun 2013 #26
loli phabay Jun 2013 #43
cosmicone Jun 2013 #19
Heywood J Jun 2013 #24
cosmicone Jun 2013 #27
Heywood J Jun 2013 #41
onehandle Jun 2013 #21
Kablooie Jun 2013 #28
mother earth Jun 2013 #29
RobinA Jun 2013 #33
Earth_First Jun 2013 #44
booley Jun 2013 #35
loli phabay Jun 2013 #45
ElsewheresDaughter Jun 2013 #36
Arkana Jun 2013 #37
IDemo Jun 2013 #40
Earth_First Jun 2013 #46

Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:00 AM

1. I bet the cops would also like an instant video erase feature too.

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:48 AM

10. +1

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 08:01 AM

23. all they(and anyone else) have to do is report your phone stolen and it will be shut down

or if i get pissed at you i'll call and have your phone shut down.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #23)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:08 PM

31. That isn't what they mean........

Yes, if you are a Verizon subscriber and your phone is stolen (or lost) you call Verizon and they will suspend or terminate the ability of that physical smartphone using your telephone number to access the Verizon network.

Thieves are not interested in using your mobile phone on your telephone number. They want to resell the physical telephone that can be re-configured to connect to other telephone networks around the world.

They want a switch that, when triggered, renders the physical device totally useless - it cannot be re-configured to connect to any other network, it is dead just as if you had soaked it overnight in a bucket of salt water. That renders the phone worthless except maybe for the salvage value of some of the metals in it.

But that isn't the market these thieves are after. They want to be able to wipe the previous configuration and sell it for re-use by another person on another network on another number. Once that use is no longer viable the thefts, at least for that purpose, will cease.

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Response to Swede Atlanta (Reply #31)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:13 PM

32. how they mean to use it and how this is actually used are gonna end up being 2 different things

like the patriot act. btw i find it hard to believe that the police are suddenly so concerned about everyones cell phones.

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Response to leftyohiolib (Reply #32)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 09:16 PM

42. its not the cell phones its the robberies that are for cell phones etc

 

Its quite common nowadays for people to be assaulted etc for their smartphone, tablet etc. The hope is by killing the phones it will stop the majority of these types of robberies.

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Response to Swede Atlanta (Reply #31)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:48 PM

39. IOW: A self destruct. And the cops won't use it to cover up their crime because, ____?

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 08:20 AM

25. Maybe they should prosecute the Armed Robbers and Strong Armed Robbers and lock them up

OOPs That will cause them to have to do WORK and use their pea brains to solve the crimes

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Response to warrant46 (Reply #25)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:39 PM

34. it's crime prevention

People are being attacked for their phones.

if a thief knows that phone will be worthless to him soon after he steals it, he's less likely to bother.

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Response to Spitfire of ATJ (Reply #1)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:27 PM

38. if they get their "kill switch" they stop us from filming them wheneverthey want.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:17 AM

2. Hmmm...

Some potential for abuse here.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:18 AM

3. ...well isn't that convenient....

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:23 AM

4. More protections forced on us whether we want them or not.

And sure customers won't foot the bill. The companies are going to eat the costs themselves right?

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:24 AM

5. All new GM cars have onstar with a feature that can slow the car to a stop.

I oppose the SOS smartphone plan and WILL NOT be buying any new GM cars.

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Response to Dawson Leery (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:47 AM

8. I've seen such things called electronic repossession and supposedly they are installed

in many new appliances and electronics, so that if purchased with credit and payments are not made in a timely manner, they can be remotely shut down

welcome to the future

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Response to Dawson Leery (Reply #5)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:06 PM

30. A standard shift vehicle can also thwart thieves.

I don't know often that's the case, but would guess most don't have the skill of driving stick any more...

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:25 AM

6. I think mine already has a "kill switch"

It is a Motorola Atrix. There is a thing called Motoblur. I think you can get into that website and wipe out the phone if it is still connected to the network.

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Response to BlueStreak (Reply #6)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:56 AM

22. That's not the same. iPhones have that too.

They want the phones to be unusable after theft, and they want criminals to know it.

Right now, phones can be reused. Apple's upcoming system will prevent that.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:45 AM

7. It's true, Central and South america is rife with robbery of tourists

w cell phones

They know that they are carrying them and push them down, knife and gun point etc

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:48 AM

9. My cell phone and vehicle have a kill switch

Its called Planned Obsolescence. It gets old and dies, the software quits working with the main system or the battery holds a charge for 7 mins; shit like that.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 01:06 AM

11. I have AVG Mobile on my Droid

Besides anti-virus it has an Anti-Theft feature. Free!

Locate (I've used this and it shows an arrow on maps)
Lock
unlock
Sound an alarm
Wipe all data

Log on to a PC or text the codes.

It's worth a look.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 01:07 AM

12. I'd prefer poison tipped spikes that shoot out into the crook's hand.

I'm Bobby, I'm in the 6th grade and I approved this message.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 01:15 AM

13. Spy on ya, turn off the phone when they're done. Spy ON! Spy OFF! THE CLAPPER! (clap, clap) nt

PB

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 01:47 AM

14. More like stopping the filming...

Of cops doing there job. We cannot have people recording police brutality.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:02 AM

15. Isnt there an App for that? I thought there was an app for everything.

I think its a great idea. I had a friend who had his $500 S3 stolen last month. He set it down on a counter in astore for a minute and it was gone. Supposedly they are now stealing them out of peoples hands walking down the street using their smart phones.

THis is an example of how government can help people. The phone companies would never do it on their own as theft is good for their bottom line profit.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 03:22 AM

16. You don't have to put a fucking thing ON the phone.

Simply build a registry of phones that all carriers can use to reject service to phones reported stolen. Each phone has unique numbers, the very same codes that let the network route incoming calls to your phone. Usually they are on the label under the battery, but they are also digitally stored inside the phone.

Just refuse to activate service on a stolen phone by way of the database. Done. "hot' phones become worthless.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #16)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 05:09 AM

18. I believe in most cases the registry is already built!

For example, Iphones and Androids at the very least have a built in Serial number that's in the chip archetcture itself.. meaning, even with flash writers it can't be changed.

I know apple keeps a database on these numbers, because that's how they track the warranty. Even if the phone is wiped completely, and someone else's account is installed, the device serial number doesn't change. Why can't the automatic location services be used to track down and recover the phone?

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Response to Amimnoch (Reply #18)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 06:15 AM

20. +1

But in an Open Developement world - the MEID / ESN is well - open.

This isn't really to protect the consumer. The initiative is to stop it at the point of sale theft. The consumer is impacted because their account is stolen via social engineering or brute force break in of their account - then they get the bill for the 15 full retail price phones.

I can catch them the next day - the ones fraud misses. I can call FedEx (they were involved - two drivers down in Killeen TX) and have them removed from the truck . . . But in my ideal world I would like to send them down hard via an internal system before they even leave the shipping companies hub. Ditto SIM Cards.

But - anyone can jail break the device and slip in another carriers SIM.

I don't know that this will work - a kill switch. It wouldn't stop the problem entirely - just slow it down. Until the fraudsters find another way around it. And I've seen the same group of fraudsters evolve their method in five days. From Wednesday of last week until Monday morning this week the same IP address has changed four times for deliveries to a major North East city.

Then I also have misgivings about taking out a phone purchased in good faith of Craig's List. Now you have three victims - the wireless provider who bought the phones, their customer whose account was stolen, and the Good Faith Craig's List purchaser.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 04:55 AM

17. Why do police need this capability

the control of this should be in the hands of the customer.

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Response to felix_numinous (Reply #17)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 08:53 AM

26. I agree....

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Response to felix_numinous (Reply #17)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 09:21 PM

43. it will be the customer, thats the point. the cops just see how big a problem it is becoming

 

And hope that the customer being able to kill their stolen phone might stop ot being stolen in the first place.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 06:08 AM

19. Cops are asking for this feature for phone owners to use.

It is not like the government is going to kill the phones.

The phone owner, if it gets stolen, goes to a website and activates the kill so the phone becomes inoperable as soon as it connects to a network anywhere in the world.

It is a great idea.

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Response to cosmicone (Reply #19)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 08:16 AM

24. "Before the protest, all smartphones in the vicinity of the demonstration at X Bank headquarters

were somehow reported stolen and shut down remotely. As a result, Channel 1 Action News was not able to obtain footage of the resulting crackdown that left four dead, dozens injured and hundreds arrested. Even protestors who showed up after the initial confrontations have said that their mobile devices were immediately reported stolen, stopped recording video and were remotely erased. Police are not explaining how phones belonging to X Bank executives were re-activated the next morning without data loss, calling it 'a glitch in the system'."

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Response to Heywood J (Reply #24)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 09:35 AM

27. Science Fiction?

There is no way anyone can know the phone number and service provider of a phone in a certain area. This is why they had to shut down the cell service in all of Boston to prevent remote-controlled, cellular activated bombs from being detonated.

If such a technology existed, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia etc. would have happily used it. Instead, they had to shut down facebook and twitter at the main access routers to the country.

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Response to cosmicone (Reply #27)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 06:56 PM

41. Are you kidding me?

You're comparing the panicked, reactive actions of officials in the chaos of Libya, Egypt and Tunisia to the stable, proactive, organized security apparatus of the United States? Really?

Let me try to address your points one at a time.

1) In Boston, they shut down the entire city because they didn't know where any more devices would have been placed or what fake name they may have been registered under - not because they didn't have any more granularity. If you're a dictator looking to prevent word of a massacre from getting out, there are very good technical reasons for blocking entire sites at a border-router level: least-work principle, speed, and thoroughness to name a few. Even the loyalty of senior officials was in question (considering how many of them defected or fled) - why not just shut down social media for everyone rather than try to figure out who's loyal enough to be trusted with it?

2) Such technology already exists. If you have access to a network operator's systems, you do not need to know the phone number in order to contact a phone. A phone number, like a domain name, is a convenience of addressing for the benefit of humans that glosses over the underlying network structure. Ever activated a prepaid phone by calling the activation line or going to a website, reading them the IMEI under the battery, then waited for the phone to come to life? You would have witnessed the reception of activation and control data when the device didn't technically yet even have a phone number.

3) Hell, even inspecting the frequency bands and/or encoding schemes in use can do a reasonably good job of determining the service provider used by a particular phone. The location (to within a few feet) and technical details of every cell-phone antenna in the country are registered with the FCC. It wouldn't take much to do a quick query that locates all the mobile phone antennas within receiving range of a demonstration, use some agency's cozy relationship with the telecomms companies to query the computers in charge of handling connections to those antennas (thus obtaining an instant list of most people at the demonstration), and send the kill commands to every phone on that list that isn't on some kind of other whitelist. Do you believe Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint have no idea who's connected to their towers (and thus couldn't bill you for roaming)? Even if you're using a virtual network operator, the physical network operator (of which there are not many) must, by definition, know enough about who is connected in order to establish a control connection to your device to route calls.

4) Or, you could just do things the short way. Take your list of nearby cell antennas and physical network operators and use your back door into each to send a broadcast command to everyone on the entire tower without ever having to know or care who was connected - the "shoot them both and sort it out later" approach. Cell broadcasts like this are already done for warning systems (e.g. earthquake detection in Japan) and reverse-911 calls.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 07:53 AM

21. Apple did something about this on Monday introducing iOS 7, ahead of the hearings.

iPhones are far more valuable than the their plastic foreign copies, so this should make them happy. This 'kill switch' will make it impossible to reinitialize the device to resell.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 10:13 AM

28. Apple will offer a password controlled kill switch in their next iPhone O.S.

You can use the password to remotely erase and lock the phone and also to unlock it if you get the phone back.
Then you can restore your data from a copy stored on your PC.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)


Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:33 PM

33. Here's A Low Tech

idea that doesn't even involve the government. Stop flashing electronics around on the street. It won't completely solve the problem, but it would probably cut it down significantly.

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Response to RobinA (Reply #33)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 09:21 PM

44. I probably should be wary of certain neighborhoods

and dress appropriately as well, yes?

Victim blaming regardless of conflict solves nothing.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 12:47 PM

35. is it possible some of you are too paranoid?

Seriously. So far the only arguments against this have been that the cops are evil and everythign they ever do is somehow a trap.

Cue Admiral Ackbar here.

Ok the police as a group do abuse power. Some go way outside the law. They are authoritarian.

Bu that doesn't mean every action they do is some secret conspiracy to take away your freedoms.

Occasionally they do remember their job is to have less crime.

My only worry is if you lock a phone as stolen and it gets killed, then all the data you have on it is gone.

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Response to booley (Reply #35)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 09:23 PM

45. better the data is gone than the theif being able to open the browser and have access to

 

Your bank accounts, emails etc.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:23 PM

36. don't do it because, then law enforsement can stop us filming their wrong doing too

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 02:27 PM

37. Goddamnit, no.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 03:28 PM

40. And hackers would never, ever be able to take advantage of this

Nope.

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Response to Redfairen (Original post)

Fri Jun 14, 2013, 09:23 PM

46. One more way you won't 'own' your own posessions...

You merely purchase these items for profit to the CEOs but never outright own anything.

Music.
Movies.
Cars.
Phones.
Houses...

At what point to we say ENOUGH?

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