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Auto-Suicide for Grey Market Electronics?

michael posted more than 13 years ago | from the my-TV-is-only-licensed-for-New-York dept.

Technology 293

Atomic Snarl writes "For those of you breathing fast and hard about user rights after the purchase, what would you think if your TV/VCR/Cellphone/Dishwasher would die if you moved it out of an "authorized usage area?" Got a great boom box bargan on your last visit to Hong Kong, but now it won't work in Cleveland? Yuk! Read the New Scientist article to find out about a GPS chip design intended to kill your unit if it isn't supposed to be marketed in your area!" The implications are wide-ranging and unpleasant.

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w00t! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#409860)

I agree, it should also kill you for being anywhere near a computer.


Re:How hard would this be to jam? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#409861)

Better yet, leave a bunch of these gadgets lying around near your local Best Buy or Circuit City, and none of the spiffy GPS-restricted gadgets they are demonstrating in the store will work. The salesmen will have to tell the customers "the demo model is being jammed by vandals. This goes on all the time with these things, because of the GPS circuits."

See how well they sell after that!

How hard would this be to jam? (1)

Have Blue (616) | more than 13 years ago | (#409862)

  • 1 chip broadcasting appropriate GPS signal at much higher strength than local satellites
  • 1 watch battery
  • 1 drop of superglue
Presto! You have created a small zone of Hong Kong around your Hong Kong-only stereo. (And rendered all the normal GPS devices for a thousand yards useless, but hey...)

This Hurts (1)

jjr (6873) | more than 13 years ago | (#409867)

Small Countries big time I have many friends that come to the US to buy items becuase they are cheaper here that back where they live(The Caribean). This will hurt alot people who like to do thier shopping overseas because it is cheaper.

Great! What about people who MOVE? (1)

Byter (11845) | more than 13 years ago | (#409870)

For example, would they want to disable all of my electronic equipment because I moved from the USA to New Zealand? (Yes, I have a power transformer).

People don't usually settle down in the same communities anymore. Setting vastly different price points is something that just won't work anymore, and believe me, companies DO try to exploit people based on Geography:

A Palm Pilot IIIxe is $149 USD ($320 NZD) in the USA.
A Palm Pilot IIIxe is $799 NZD in New Zealand.

Attention! (1)

jwriney (16598) | more than 13 years ago | (#409877)

This post is protected with Motorola technology. It may only be read in my cubicle.



Re:Chastity belts with GPS (1)

TheCaptain (17554) | more than 13 years ago | (#409878) I'll have her in YOUR bed then...

Re:Sabotage... (1)

KFury (19522) | more than 13 years ago | (#409879)

/an statistic/an accurate statistic/
Kevin Fox

Globalization and Free trade? (1)

desertfool (21262) | more than 13 years ago | (#409880)

I should be able, in this era of free trade, to go and buy my equipment where I can get the lowest price. If I can not do that, than the multinational corporations should not be able to shop for the lowest labor rates. Free trade should be free for BOTH the production and consumption sides to work.

That and I want to be able to bring back cheap tequila from Mexico when I go :)

Re:Sounds like DVDs (1)

johnnie (33967) | more than 13 years ago | (#409886)

'cept, of course, the region garbage on the DVD don't break it.

Re:GPS doesn't work indoors (1)

cyberdemo (49375) | more than 13 years ago | (#409896)

Kinda insane, don't you think?


Re:Well, my thoughts (1)

cyberdemo (49375) | more than 13 years ago | (#409897)

I thought something like that. What if you live near the border that separates a region from another, and that distance is so small that the GPS might misunderstand what region you're in? For that and a billion other reasons, I think this scheme is pure bullshit. Instead of just developing ways to stop piracy, they could stop raising prices, which would help a lot more.


Re:But it protects consumers too (1)

1010011010 (53039) | more than 13 years ago | (#409899)

You funny man!

- - - - -

Grrr.... (1)

helleman (62840) | more than 13 years ago | (#409903)

Nothin that a soldering iron and a pullup won't fix... till they integrate it into an ASIC.

When will the nonsense end? Just gimme good prices on stuff and I won't import it. Basterds!

what about valleys or deep apartments (1)

mrbubba (66630) | more than 13 years ago | (#409904)

There may be cases if this is implemented where you are in a legal area but the chip can't receive a signal. They would have to come up with a workaround.

Relax, we're only trying to help... (1)

Knobby (71829) | more than 13 years ago | (#409920)

Couple this with the guts to a Motorola cell phone, then forge a little deal with DoubleCLick, the US Census data, and the Cellular telcos, and POW! The ultimate in customized advertising.. Hmmm, you've got a lot of nice stereo equipment, but you live in a rough neighborhood, I think maybe we should start streaming ads for home security products.. Good stuff..

Great idea for the penal system (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 13 years ago | (#409921)

Implant one of these chips in someone's pacemaker so they can't leave the country (or the state) without leaving this world. If they guy doesn't need a pacemaker then inplant a pace-destroyer (in planted electric chair?) to do the same. Great way to keep prisoners at bay without putting them in jail.

I give up (1)

MegaFur (79453) | more than 13 years ago | (#409925)

Maybe we should all just start making our own electronics.
Microchips and all! It should be easy! (sarcasm)

Re:You miss the point (1)

spectro (80839) | more than 13 years ago | (#409926)

No signal, not device. If you do not put a GPS antena on the side of your house - or in some other way give the device a clear view of the signals, none of your toys will work. It's in your best interest to not tamper with this system, once in place.

I don't see how come somebody could pull something like this and force everybody to buy it if they don't have a Microsoft like kind of monopoly.


It's Fair Game (1)

pbryan (83482) | more than 13 years ago | (#409927)

Let's not forget that manufacturers should have the right to manufacture whatever they want, in whatever way. If they want to manufacture equipment that only operates under certain conditions, that should be their right. If they want to manufacture goods that only work when the moon is full, that is their prerogative.

If consumers want to be suckers and purchase their products with knowledge of such restrictions, they should do so at their own peril. Of course, they should be fully informed of what they are purchasing. The shouldn't be driving across the border only to discover then that their GPS-enabled pacemaker isn't authorized for use in the country they're entering.

The flip side of this argument is that anyone should have the right to do whatever they want to a product they purchased. If I want to figure out a way to interface my DVD player into my toaster, as long as the DVD player and the toaster are my property, I should have this right.

This goes for resellers as well. Resellers purchase products from a manufacturer in quantity. If they want to modify this equipment en masse prior to resale, they should be free to do so unless encumbered by contractual obligations. Again, they need to disclose what they are selling to consumers - something different than what was originally manufactured.

Finally, there is the most important issue: the law. The law must not keep us from modifying what is our own property. More and more, individuals and corporations are learning how to manipulate the law and lawmakers to their own advantage. This is having an enourmously detremental effect on individual liberty.

To sum up:

To look under the hood of your car should not be a crime. To tell others how to modify their own property (e.g. deCSS) should not be a crime. To modify your own property should not be a crime.

Everything else is fair game.

Re:GPS in every device? Riiiighhhtttt. (1)

angel (84938) | more than 13 years ago | (#409929)

Well it doesn't have to be a full blown GPS. A regular GPS unit has to be accurate within a couple yards. This only has to be able to tell what country your in. Thats fairly easy.

Well, my thoughts (1)

Judg3 (88435) | more than 13 years ago | (#409930)

I don't think this will really catch on. THere would be such a huge out cry against, at least I know I will be crying. Besides, GPS is nice, but not 100% accurate all the time. What happens if you buy a new TV at the local Best Buy, theres a sun flare, and all of a sudden your TV dies because it thinks it is 14,000 miles away? I do think its a good idea in the military respect, especially weapons. Program it so that missle A can only be launched within 15 miles of XXXX. That would work nice to stop (or at least curb) arms trafficking.


Re:Sounds bad but... (1)

Ryu2 (89645) | more than 13 years ago | (#409933)

Sure, but how long before the powerful players in the "foo" industry collude and REQUIRE that all "foo"s must be licensed from the "Foo Consortium", or face a lawsuit, and as part of this licensing, must include this "GPS Chip"? The result being that you can't buy any "foo" on the open market without GPS tracking capability, unless you find a backdoor or hack it.

If you think that's outlandish, it's exactly what the DVD industry is RIGHT NOW (except the GPS part, and that's probably only a matter of time).

May be a problem if you want to work INDOORS... (1)

XJoshX (103447) | more than 13 years ago | (#409937)

With all the problems medium quality GPS has indoors (especially in cities, etc) I think think any GPS reciever that could be put into a cheap boombox would probably have even more trouble.

more fun for us hackers (1)

wunderhorn1 (114559) | more than 13 years ago | (#409942)

First, I think the appliance industry is much more diverse than, say, the record industry or the movie industry, which makes it less likely that all the major appliance-makers could form a cabal that would force all members to create anti-consumer appliances.

The power for, say, GE to lobby congress for laws requiring all appliances to have tracking devices is diminished by the fact that most of these grey-market manufacturers are overseas.

And until Big Brother and the Thought Police finally take over, anti-consumer technologies like this simply mean more fun for us hackers trying to circumvent them!

-the wunderhorn

if (1)

Lord Omlette (124579) | more than 13 years ago | (#409946)

the label is printed clearly on the side of the box and it says, "Will not work if taken outside of ," then it's really not that big of a deal, right? Because if it's clearly marked, then someone's just gonna manufacture a product that doesn't have region limits, and they're gonna mark it down as slightly cheaper and clean house. As long as they label it, it's not a big deal.
Lord Omlette
ICQ# 77863057

Mass Failure (1)

Two_Slick (129047) | more than 13 years ago | (#409949)

I can see it now ~~~~ After a small GPS satellite glitch, millions of /. posters are unable to flame CowboyNeal due to their computers being fried.

Another Corporate Heavy Hand (1)

actappan (144541) | more than 13 years ago | (#409954)

This is another example of a corporate solution designed to stave off undesirable market activity that ends up hurting the consumer. Sure, to some extent the corporation has every right to set different prices in different locales. However, what right do they have to prevent an individual from moving those objects which they have legally purchased from one locale to another? In the increasingly global economy of today - it's hardly rare for those in certain industries to frequently relocate. How much fun would it be to have that nice new walkman you picked up while working in Singapore turn into a pumpkin upon your return to the United States. This sort of regulation belongs to those legitimately elected/appointed officials of governments -Not profit hungry corporate entities.

Hey, we could put this in people, too! (1)

Perianwyr Stormcrow (157913) | more than 13 years ago | (#409957)

It would be just like that movie "Fortress".

Nobody should ever move, anyway.

--Perianwyr Stormcrow

My dog (1)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 13 years ago | (#409963)

My dog has something like this. Its zaps'em if he tries to run outta the yard.
I guess it -is- a successful way to maintain your customer base....


Re:Sounds like DVDs (1)

JamesGreenhalgh (181365) | more than 13 years ago | (#409971)

I've got a (genuine UK market) Sony TV that copes with PAL and NTSC - specifically because I have a Japanese imported Saturn ;-)


This is all very wrong. (1)

7-Vodka (195504) | more than 13 years ago | (#409975)

I wish there were an easier way for consumers to pressure companies than boycotting. Most people just won't go without their DVD to make a statement against MPAA because there is no alternative.

It's too bad that Washington D.C. (tm) is in the pocket of the corporations. If washington were listening to comsumers, laws like the DMCA and schemes like the DVD region protection would be history.

"just connect this to..."

Someone will just create an emulator. (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 13 years ago | (#409976)

If these things become mainstream (thus a popular nuisance), someone will come up with a workaround, such as a personal GPS jamming device that will simply bullshit the regionlocked phone/vcr/doohicky into believing it's still in its native region.

grey electronics (1)

honest abe (197802) | more than 13 years ago | (#409977)

Too bad they can't develop something like that for Bubba's pants.

I doubt they could get it to work (1)

deinol (210478) | more than 13 years ago | (#409982)

Even if they manage to make a cheap but reliable gps chip that finds your location, the most it would do to would be illegal exporters is force them to pull out a soldier gun, maybe even a mod chip like the good old Playstation. Most likely the cost of the GPS system would be too high to make this scheme worth it.

Rather similar to recent /. story on radio tags (1)

jazdc (217401) | more than 13 years ago | (#409989)

This is another possible application of the radio tags/high-tech barcodes discussed recently [] here on Slashdot. That, too, was a Motorola thing... I wonder what they are up to?

However, as suggested in the article, it is unclear whether this would be entirely legal everywhere, considering the severe free trade implications. There have, as you know, been discussions on this regarding DVD region coding as well.

IANAL, but I do not believe a scheme like this would ever be accepted in the EU/EFTA/ECC region. I won't make any bets about the US, though.

Essential tools for buying future appliances: (1)

AFCArchvile (221494) | more than 13 years ago | (#409992)

A faraday cage, radio signal detector, screwdrivers, chip-puller, soldering iron, and a good pair of eyes for finding that damned chip.

Today, the CueCat, tomorrow, the world!

Great business model! (1)

Exedore (223159) | more than 13 years ago | (#409993)

Obviously it (will) cost Motoral money to research, develop, and implement this technology. A cost that will be passed on to the consumer in one way or another. So the idea is to charge consumers more in exchange for crippling the product?

Hopefully someone has already patented this "business model" and will sue the holy bejesus out of them for infringement. I wish I had a spare 30 or 40 mil lying around... I'd try it just for kicks!


Re:Now if only... (1)

Exedore (223159) | more than 13 years ago | (#409994)

Heh. Would have been a good way to disable all those PS2's he bought.


Re:Screw that (1)

Mr. Bob Arctor (223605) | more than 13 years ago | (#409995)

This is hard would it be to broadcast fake GPS signals. This would be extremely dangerous (to a comnplete novice it seems that way at least). Is this a possible threat (airplanes going down and what not?)

Prior to dying my TV said... (1)

John Harrison (223649) | more than 13 years ago | (#409996)

Someone set up us the bomb!

Not at all (1)

jabber01 (225154) | more than 13 years ago | (#409998)

This doesn't hinder free trade at all. It let's the manufacturers completely control supply to certain areas. Free trade is not about freedom, don't let the wording throw you.

The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

You miss the point (1)

jabber01 (225154) | more than 13 years ago | (#409999)

No signal, not device. If you do not put a GPS antena on the side of your house - or in some other way give the device a clear view of the signals, none of your toys will work. It's in your best interest to not tamper with this system, once in place.

The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

Now if only... (1)

kenthorvath (225950) | more than 13 years ago | (#410001)

... we could implement this technology in Saddam's Iraqi SCUD missiles.

" We're sorry Mr. Hussein, but the missiles we bought from China will not explode outside of Iraqi airspace...

Re:Why is good technology... (1)

Alatar (227876) | more than 13 years ago | (#410002)


Sheeple Herding (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 13 years ago | (#410003)

Perfect application, ala electric fence.

I can see Microsoft dying to get this into comps (1)

LtFiend (232003) | more than 13 years ago | (#410012)

"Error: You have moved your computer 5 feet from the original install location. This is a violation of your EULA. Windows will now crash"

Well they already have the last part down. Now to get the rest of it working

Re:Sounds like DVDs (1)

PhipleTroenix (240551) | more than 13 years ago | (#410014)

TVs/VCRs/Cellphones/etc. already do this. NTSC vs. PAL takes care of TVs and VCRs. CDMA vs GSM takes cares of your cellphones. Sorry, the consumer looses again.

Unreal (1)

tulare (244053) | more than 13 years ago | (#410019)

It becomes harder and harder to believe what the big companies are willing to do to advance their positions. While in the United States we still make occasional noise in the courts about government intrusions of privacy, we are more than willing (or at least clueless) to let big corporations look right into our lives. Remember when the Pentium III came out? Half the people I saw interviewed didn't even care that the computer would now uniquely identify you over the internet. Most of them thought it was a good thing!
It seems to me a logical extension of logic to create a tranciever instead of a simple receiver in the product. Probably with the stated goal of catching smugglers. And nowhere in the article did I see anything about disclosure. Does that mean you won't even know your VCR is going to croak until you actually get that job in some foreign country? I hope this project dies the death it deserves.

Pacemakers (1)

Vegan Pagan (251984) | more than 13 years ago | (#410022)

Imagine the police putting this in somebody's pacemaker to for house arrest! This disabler chip is a good implementation of a TERRIBLE idea currently used in DVDs and game consoles, though luckily it's too expensive for either. But I think people won't put up with it: people want to bring their electronics on trips and won't buy devices that prevent them from doing that (I hope). Besides, it's already too late to impliment this in music players. They may keep us from travelling with our electronics, but we already have fluid music thanks to Napster and friends!

Re:Already around... (1)

Maskirovka (255712) | more than 13 years ago | (#410024)

In Sum of all fears Ghosn was able to salvage the PLUTONIUM. The electronics were destroyed. Now imagine a GPS system that would destroy the plutonium over that would be scary.


Exploding devices... (1)

Mercaptan (257186) | more than 13 years ago | (#410025)

"This TV will self-destruct if removed from the Indian sub-continent."

The whole thing is a pretty strange. How large of an impact is this gray market having? And what happens if the device can't get a good GPS signal? Does it err on the side of the corporation (shuts down) or the buyer (keeps working)?

Re:indoors (1)

digidave (259925) | more than 13 years ago | (#410026)

The question is if the device will be permanently disabled after taking it out of the zone of if it will only be disabled while it's out of its zone.

Think of it this way, if they have a battery-powered GPS, all it needs to do is detect while it's on the truck to the store or your taking it home in the back of your pickup. It could permanently disable itself.

The perfect application for this technology! (1)

StJohnsWort (260566) | more than 13 years ago | (#410028)

It just hit me what this would be perfect for.

handheld GPS devices!

But it protects consumers too (1)

Chuck Flynn (265247) | more than 13 years ago | (#410030)

This may sound like something solely aimed at fattening corporate profits, but there's more than one benefit to consumers as well.
  1. Think of how much harder it will be for someone to profit from stealing you physical belongings if they only work within your authorised location.
  2. Think of how much harder it will be for someone to fraudulently sell you stolen goods or illicit goods if those goods won't function outside their original location.
This is just an appropriate application of the sort of paternalism our governments have been engaging in for years.

People are sedentary creatures by nature. Most people live in the same town all their lives -- the same town their parents and their parents' parents lived in. If you're never going to move, then you're never going to be negatively affected by this safety mechanism.

And if the majority of people won't be negatively impacted, whereas the minority of criminals will, then where's the harm? It's the same reason why we outlaw weapons of mass (and minor) destruction -- no law-abiding citizen has the need for a weapon, so it does no harm to deny that right to everyone in the aim of preventing criminals from using them.

It's an exciting future where software and hardware meld together and blur the lines. Soon we'll have sentient furniture, and the rest of these problems will pale by comparison.

If steps like these are necessary on the path to artificial intelligence and other exciting developments, then I'm all for them. We have to support companies now in the hope that they'll generate good later. That's what corporatism is all about and why it's enshrined in the US Codes and Constitution.

Why is good technology... (1)

derf77 (265283) | more than 13 years ago | (#410031)

always harnessed for the engines of evil?

Hmmmm use for the satelites! (1)

h8macs (301553) | more than 13 years ago | (#410038)

Cool now I can be tracked wherever I go. GPS chip in my remote, in my TV, in my computer. In my car. Good way to keep tabs on everyone at once! Oh, and I am being sarcastic. This is ludicrous! What a horrible way to turn a cool technology into something that controls, and closes "Freedoms". I'm sorry but I didn't buy something for it to become inoperable because I move to a new state or CANADA! hehehehe Technology is cool, I love it. But damn. Dont we all like being free? Isn't that why the world is trying to be a democracy!? Free Enterprise boys....emphasis on 'FREE' ie....not restricted. D*mn, when do we start paying for air to breathe!?

Interesting Trend! (1)

h8macs (301553) | more than 13 years ago | (#410039)

Let's think about this for a few minutes here. Sony has 'regions' for their games. DVD's have 'regions'. CD's have 'regions' and different formats! Granted some of these you can still trick into working but, why? Their should be no necessity to this. I'll tell you what, (never happen) boycott SONY, boycott MUSIC INDUSTRY in general, boycott DVD and entertainment industry in general. Do what they are complaining about in the news all the time. Use their media and material, stop actually buying it! I mean damn, though all these restrictions have increased and their whining about 'losing money' has increased. We like the idiot 'sheep' that why have been brainwashed into being have started buying more More MORE. We are brainwashed into thinking that we should all 'get along, come together'. How do 'regions' promote unity? How do companies get away with this? And why can't we count on our government to regulate this? Why do we actually put more faith in business than government? Where is the happy medium!? Things to ponder if you will.

And Go! ... Everything looks good... Target hit!!! (1)

drenok (304336) | more than 13 years ago | (#410042)

I'm sure this will only lead to more and more
backyard "missile" launchers.

Re:Hmmmm use for the satelites! (1)

AX.25 (310140) | more than 13 years ago | (#410044)

How can they track you? These chips only receive, they don't transmit. We won't ever be "Free" until we can all get along and we get rid of money.

What about wirless devices? (1)

krashish (311511) | more than 13 years ago | (#410045)

Isn't the whole point of using a cell phone to allow you to communicate when you are traveling?!

The Nightmare Begins (1)

pgpckt (312866) | more than 13 years ago | (#410046)

Wow! I can seen the visions in front of my eyes as I speak. I am worried about the nasty implications the submitter of this article mentioned.

Think about it. We have been reading in recent days about open source hardware and Apple trying to get an open source license for their software. We have been reading about the other side of that coin as well. About making all software limited time, so you are FORCED to buy upgrades. Not cool.

What's next? Someday, dishwashers come with licenses? End User Agreements? "By opening this box, you agree to..." You can fill in your own blank there. How about the end of Ebay? Or even more traditional, the garage sale? The end of collecting items from overseas as mementos of your trip? I can see it now; the end of souvenir beer mugs. How ridiculous can you get? What if I move from one place to another? I guess that means I have to sell all my things.

Even worse, does this mean that GE can now track my movements? Think deeper...they can track me, send me junk mail to my new address. Tell all there corporate buddies where I am living before I finish unpacking. Could it get any worse? What if you want to escape from someone? Can a PI use the chip in your washer to find you? Use the information from the chip to find out your habits? Could someone hack into the chip to find out info about you? A virus for your washing machine? Heck, with in home networks, all this information could be connected together.

And on top of all this evil, I can't think of a single good use for this technology. At all. Perhaps consumers won't go for this. I just want a toaster. Not a toaster that needs a firewall.
Kurt A. Mueller
PGP key id:0x4FB5FB1D

Inconceivable! (1)

slcdb (317433) | more than 13 years ago | (#410048)

Although it sounds like this infernal little device is still only in the patent stage, it seems absolutely inconveivable to me that a company would even *think* about completely detroying their reputation with consumers by proposing such a device. I think the execs at Motorola must not have authorized the research that went into this chip, or they've taken a few too many hits of acid.

Re:Globalization and Free trade? (1)

slcdb (317433) | more than 13 years ago | (#410049)

Yeah, I don't think their little chip will stop the tequila from getting you drunk if you drink it in the states.

Re:But it protects consumers too (1)

NZKiwi (317525) | more than 13 years ago | (#410051)

Um Hello! Mayby you people in the US never leave the suburb you grow up in; but much of the rest of the world DOES move around (and besides, how would you like it if your Philadelphia (sp?) walkman didn't work when you commuted to work in Boston?

funny and i thought (1)

CrackElf (318113) | more than 13 years ago | (#410052)

that the whole point of capitalism was to allow
the ppl to buy the best product and thus
allow the 'natural' selection of ...
oh wait, thats right, the actual reason is to
allow the rich and powerfull to get richer
and more powerfull by controlling the middle
and lower classs. right then.

the tighter that you squeeze your fist, the
more systems will slip through your fingers ...

Maybe there's actually a good use for this... (2)

Guppy (12314) | more than 13 years ago | (#410066)

One potentially useful applications might be in devices that broadcast RF, like cellphones or wireless networking stuff. A particular RF band licensed for use in one country might be reserved for, say, medical devices in another. With built-in GPS, your device could automatically switch frequency bands or shut off if it is moved into an area where it is prohibited.

Re:Now if only... (2)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 13 years ago | (#410074)

We don't even need to do that. If Sony puts it in the PS2's, Saddam's weapons program will be set back years.

GPS doesn't work indoors (2)

Polo (30659) | more than 13 years ago | (#410077)

Sorry, GPS doesn't work indoors.

It might work for the cell phones, but not
for the TV's. The TV's would require off-air
antennas for the broadcast signal.

This region lockout is Bull* (2)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 13 years ago | (#410086)

First DVDs, now electronics.


If I bought it, *why* can't I *use* it wherever I go?!

Can someone explain the rationale for dvd region codes? (Aside from the obvious answer of "money" :-(

Re:WTO, EU (2)

psin psycle (118560) | more than 13 years ago | (#410092)

They want the best of both worlds. They want to be able to use cheap third world labor and slack third world environmental laws to cheaply create products that they can sell in different parts of the world, for the maximum price that that part of the world will pay.

They want to stop us from importing electronics, movies, CD's and such from parts of the world where they sell the exact same items for 1/2 the price.

Free trade is not something the common man is supposed to be able to take advantage of. It is supposed to be something the corps can use to increase their profits.

Against intellectual property [] chapter three of Information Liberation []

Cartel, plain and simple (2)

GrouchoMarx (153170) | more than 13 years ago | (#410098)

What the DVD Consortium, Motorola et al, and just about every other group that is pushing a regionalization scheme is doing is supporting a cartel. A cartel is illegal in the United States, according to the Sherman Anit-Trust Act, the same one that restricts monopolies.

For the record a cartel is defined as "a combination of independent commercial or industrial enterprises designed to limit competition or fix prices." (Mirriam-Webster Online)

Now, regionalization schemes do what? (Be it CSS, Motorola's GPS system, or something else.) They divide up the market so that companies can charge different prices in different areas. That is, fix prices. The fact that we haven't broken up the MPAA and RIAA is already a disgrace, as they are some of the most obvious and blatant cartels in American history, but if we allow companies to now segment ALL products into market regions? Californians have more money than Kentuckians, on average, so lets charge twice as much for a washing machine in California than Kentucky, even though it's cheaper to ship them there. "What the market will bear" and all of that jazz.

"Free market" capitalism is one of those things that works really nice on paper, but in the real world fails miserably. What's to stop competitors from joining forces into a cartel? Absolutely nothing. Oh, wait, except the government who can stop them through the legal system. But we can't have that, that would be socialism which is synonimous with demon spawn, right? And no, you can't "vote with your dollars" and go elsewhere, because there is no elsewhere to go. That's the whole point of a cartel. And no, you can't start up your own company, because the cost of entry in the modern marketplace is so high. Add to that the licensing costs of using technology to be compatible, and you have yourself an impenitrable cartel. (You don't like CSS and want to make DVDs without it? Sorry, they won't be compatible unless you sign agreements with the patent/copyright holders, the MPAA, who will require you to play by their rules and become one of them.)

I know there's a strong anti-government sentiment in this country and on Slashdot in particular, but I offer you a choice: The government you pick in the voting booth (buying an election only works if people like you are dumb enough to vote for the best commerical rather than the best candidate) and have control over and is YOUR GOVERNMENT, or a consortium of a few rich individuals who are answerable to no one but their own bottom line and who are indoctrinated to screw you over if they possibly can.

I don't know about you, but it's an easy choice for me. It's time to start busting some trusts left and right, starting with the MPAA, moving on to AOL/TimeWarner, any company that incorporates this "market division" technology, and just keep right on going. Splitting the compaines up should encourage competition, which is supposedly a good thing, right?

Ah, Teddy Roosevelt, where are you when we need you?


Sounds like DVDs (2)

AntiNorm (155641) | more than 13 years ago | (#410099)

For those of you breathing fast and hard about user rights after the purchase, what would you think if your TV/VCR/Cellphone/Dishwasher would die if you moved it out of an "authorized usage area?" Got a great boom box bargan on your last visit to Hong Kong, but now it won't work in Cleveland? Yuk!

Sounds a lot like region coding on DVDs. Take your DVD outside zone X, and it won't work any more. Just imagine what an uproar there would be if TVs/VCRs/Cellphones/etc. did this as well.

Check in...OK! Check out...OK!

Re:Already around... (2)

bonzoesc (155812) | more than 13 years ago | (#410100)

Quite too slow for safety, though. What is needed is something to break it up so it's tougher to salvage.

Tell me what makes you so afraid
Of all those people you say you hate

Already around... (2)

bonzoesc (155812) | more than 13 years ago | (#410101)

What if your DVD movies wouldn't work if you took them away from where you are supposed to use them... Oh wait, they do.

Honestly, this technology could be used for many other things. Military electronics and the such could be set to self destruct over time, so that things like The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy can't take place when terrorists find things lying around. However, this technology should stay out of the civilian area.

Tell me what makes you so afraid
Of all those people you say you hate

Re:Sounds like DVDs (2)

bonzoesc (155812) | more than 13 years ago | (#410103)

There are TVs and VCRs that work with both types of signal, and some cell phones do the same thing. This auto-suicide feature would be aimed more towards restricting things to actual regions, not inadvertent differentiation such as these differing standards have.

Tell me what makes you so afraid
Of all those people you say you hate

Military/State Department Problems (2)

BobTheWonderchicken (209244) | more than 13 years ago | (#410110)

Just the problems this would cause the government. At least in the cases where they move their employees around. Not to mention the private sector.

GPS in every device? Riiiighhhtttt. (2)

wmoyes (215662) | more than 13 years ago | (#410112)

If they can make a GPS engine cheap enough to throw into a VCR to enable this scheme I think I will buy one just for the engine ;)

great, now i've got another reason to stay at home (2)

fishfucker (217763) | more than 13 years ago | (#410113)

i didn't purchase the travel license.



Licensing (2)

cube farmer (240151) | more than 13 years ago | (#410120)

Motorola's [] on to an interesting marketing gimmick enforcement mechanism. But what about the legal/contract law implications?

For example, If I buy a CD player, will I be required to agree to a license? If I don't agree and the device suicides, will I be able to sue the manufacturer, the distributor, or the retailer? After all, if I buy the device at the local Circuit City [] but the sales clerk didn't point out the agreement to me, or I bought the device on the gray market, I shouldn't be bound by the terms of the license, should I?

This looks like one more insidious possibility of UCITA [] shrink-wrap licenses causing grief in the marketplace.

Don't forget to read the unbiased news about UCITA, also (Not that Stallman's opinion doesn't explain enough...).

Buy Intel! (2)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 13 years ago | (#410123)

Or something
I can See It Now(tm).
It's 2012, we get hit by a bad solar flare. A Payload Assist Module accidentally ignites and in a freak accident takes out one of the GPS satellites. Every bit of consumer electronics in the 'North American Marketing Region' immediately shuts down because it is 'out of the authorized market area'. The crowds do go wild - but not in a nice way. The heads of the networks will go up on pikes right alongside the heads of the government for letting em foist the technology on us.

Now that would be a real plot for a disaster movie. But don't come a calling if you are a member of the MPAA. I'll sell the screenplay (already in progress) to an indie.

I need this for my wife! (2)

Anonymous Retard (312587) | more than 13 years ago | (#410125)

She should die when she attempts to leave the kitchen.

Re:GPS doesn't work indoors (2)

JiffyPop (318506) | more than 13 years ago | (#410127)

There are a couple of ways to deal with that problem, but the easiest would be to require the user to wire the house with a GPS antenna. The device could simply refuse to work if it couldn't find a GPS signal.

Re:GPS doesn't work indoors (3)

Erik Hensema (12898) | more than 13 years ago | (#410129)

Yeah, imagine that! The American president can switch off GPS for civilian use any time he wishes, so now he can turn off televisions and cellular phones worldwide ;-)

How 'bout that power?

WTO, EU (3)

redhog (15207) | more than 13 years ago | (#410130)

Hm. Won't this upset these orgs. I mean, this is hindering of free trade...

Btw, someone will probably _quickly_ find out a standard way of bridging over these chips if they aren't integrated into some other chips ine one dye.

Re:Screw that (3)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#410132)

That might be fun to build one even if this tech doesn't see the light of day. Useful for hiding it near one of those GPS game spots. hhehe

Yeah. Hang them from trees and lead folks around in 4K circles in the woods! Then make wierd noises from off in the distance and leave bundles of twigs and stuff outside their tents every night. :-)


Curious (3)

Restil (31903) | more than 13 years ago | (#410133)

What would happen if for some reason the GPS network developed a... problem. Say we have an unusually heavy meteor shower, which would cause no undue damage to earth itself but could reign utter havoc on satellites in orbit. Its not inconcievable that enough of the GPS satellites could be disabled that would cause GPS devices on Earth to become disabled. If this were to happen, does this mean that all consumer goods would fail to function until the sats were repaired or replaced?


Re:But it protects consumers too (3)

Christianfreak (100697) | more than 13 years ago | (#410134)

I'm really hoping that your post is sarcasm. True criminals would be hurt by such an application but to state that people don't move is ludicrous! I'm 21 and I've moved 15 times in my life, across two continents. People in today's society move all the time and that will only increase. Such an application will defenately affect everyone who owns electronics. There are better ways to deter crime.

"One World, one Web, one Program" - Microsoft promotional ad

Make it easy for technology warfare... (3)

john1 (106860) | more than 13 years ago | (#410135)

Hmm, if devices 'are programmed to identify the signal transmitted by national broadcasters' then just think what fun you could have with a small radio transmitter and a bit of hacking. Drive around town transmitting codes from another country, and cause everyone electronics to self destruct. Now, better get shares in those electronic manufacturing and retail companies first... then as people rush out to replace their old stuff, sit back and rake in the money.

Baloney (3)

wmoyes (215662) | more than 13 years ago | (#410138)

GPS won't work? Why? Ever try using a GPS unit inside your house? If you have a metal roof you are SOL, and if you have ever tried using a cheap GPS, they are lucky to lock on even under a clear sky.

National broadcast signal? How hard would it be for me to either a) block the signal by clipping the antenna so it does not know where its at, or b) jam the signal so none of my nebigors equipment knows where its at. If the unit must know where its at so it can operate all my nebigors will complain when someone jams it, and if it will default to functional then a pair of wire cutters should do the trick.

This scheme will never work.

Re:GPS in every device? Riiiighhhtttt. (3)

wmoyes (215662) | more than 13 years ago | (#410139)

True, you would not need a full-blown GPS engine, but you would need a sizeable portion of one. For sake of argument, lets say you just wanted to identify which hemisphere you are in (this can be done by identifying which satellites signals can be detected, no phase comparison needed to identify the exact location).

You would need an antenna capable of receiving the signal, the necessary amplifiers, at least one CDMA correlator, and a microprocessor to drive the show. You would need to find at least one satellite and then download the satellites almanac (keep in mind GPS satellites are no geo-synchronous). From the almanac downloaded from the satellite, and the satellites PN number you could computer a rough idea (probably about 300 miles, I would have to look closer at the specs) of where you are.

What more would you need for a full-blown GPS? Just multiplex the use of the one correlator, and keep track of the relative locations in the PN code. That's mainly just software. So cost wise, there isn't much difference. Sorry.

Auto Insurance and selective software failure (3)

jabber01 (225154) | more than 13 years ago | (#410140)

How intriguing.. Now you can be insured only for certain States or areas... If you cross the State line into New Jersey, where you are not insured... putt, putt, sputter, stop!

Better still, your premium can be billed by how much, and how fast, you drive. If you think that having your telephone billed by the second was neat, wait until Allstate and Geiko make GPS transcievers a mandatory feature of being their client.

Things to watch for: A deal between Microsoft and Toshiba that renders Office XP useless on Toshiba laptops when taken into countries where Microsoft software is known to be pirated.

How absolutely fascinating.

The REAL jabber has the /. user id: 13196

Important difference (re: DVDs) (4)

KFury (19522) | more than 13 years ago | (#410141)

DVDs will work in any geographic area. They just wont work on players made for that region. If I have a portable Panasonic DVD player, I can take it with me to Europe and still watch my Region 1 discs. If I had one with a zap chip in it, I couldn't use the unit at all outside the area (and depending on how you interpret the article, anywhere else after attempting to do so).

Kevin Fox

Screw that (5)

rw2 (17419) | more than 13 years ago | (#410142)

I'm just going to mount a few antenna's in my attic and broadcast pirate GPS and make my house think it's in Korea!


Sabotage... (5)

KFury (19522) | more than 13 years ago | (#410143)

This is terrible. First off, what happens if it can't detect a GPS signal at all? Will it operate? I know GPS doesn't come through many buildings, or any basements.

If the GPS system hiccups, or there's a bug like the 'thousandth week' GPS bug that could have wreaked havoc in 1999, do the boxen all go kaflooey?

Worse yet, considering DGPS uses ground stations, could someone set up a few local area transmitters to give out false readings, selectively destroying hardware in a localized region?

Even worse, what would stop a foreign power from doing the same thing, sending out false GPS from a few of their sattelietes at a specific moment before an attack. When a pager sattelite went down in 1998, US productivity went down 6% (if you really want me to find the link, I will, but this is an statistic). what happens if 70% of the cellphones, radios and televisions all went out at the same time? This sounds like just the FUD tactic any superpower or terrorist organization would love to have.

Bomb an embassy? Bad. Knock out half the TVs in the continental US and you'll have serious consequences.

I'd be as likely to buy something with one of these cips inside it as I would to install a utility on my Linux box that wipes the drive if someone tries to SSH in with the wrong password.

Kevin Fox

Killer applications (5)

ConceptJunkie (24823) | more than 13 years ago | (#410145)

We are hearing more and more about technology that will impose capricious and draconian restrictions on what we consumers can do with the products we buy. From the DCMA and its offspring like SDMI, to built-in GPS for region control, to the alleged new CD format that will prevent copying, to digital TV that won't allow the signal to be recorded, to speakers that won't allow unauthorized signals to be played, there are so many new ideas being floated about of ways for companies to "protect their rights" (which also means artifically increase profits and take advantage of helpless customers). The industry's reaction to things like Napster could end up having a terrible effect on people who have never even used it.

When these technologies become incorporated into new CD players, DVD players, VCR's, etc, those products had better offer something so new, so cool, and so revolutionary that people will be willing to submit to Soviet-style restrictions on fair use in order to get them. If that doesn't happen, you can guarantee that savvy customers will boycott the products.

Let's look at DIVX. Now there was a product that was needlessly complicated and overly restictive and Circuit City probably lost a bundle when it failed. Who, in the tech community _didn't_ see it coming? Not many, I imagine. I have a feeling that this kind of application of technology could backfire immensely on any companies that choose to use it.

I always thought the American environmental regulations controlling toilet flow creating a black market in old toilets was the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of, just wait until we see old analog A/V equipment becoming more and more of a prized possesion, so people can make reasonable use of the products and software (i.e., music, movies, etc) they buy.

Big Brother is alive and well, but he's currently employed in the private sector.

A modest proposal (5)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 13 years ago | (#410146)

I propose implanting these chips into lobbyist's heads, along with a small charge of TNT. We then program the chips to detonate the charge whenever the lobbyist gets within a mile of an elected official.

This, of course, requires we chip elected officials, and continuously monitor their locations. Since this seems to be what they wish to do to us, they should have little problem with experiencing it themselves.

This would also have the side effect of allowing us to locate the positions of bars, brothels, and gambling houses with unprecidented accuracy.

Toaster EULA (5)

scoove (71173) | more than 13 years ago | (#410147)

Now we'll be required to read the fine print of a EULA before unpacking that toaster, waffle iron, hair dryer, etc:


Congratulations on your purchase of a ACME Toaster 1000. Prior to opening and using this toaster, you must read and accept the terms of this agreement.


The EULA gives you the following rights:

  • Toast: You may toast bread slices or bagels not exceeding 44 mm in width in this device. Waffles are not allowed in this device without the purchase of the WAFFLE EXPANSION LICENSE.
  • Multiple Use: Only one household user is allowed per toaster. Use by other parties is prohibited and is a violation of this agreement (see SERVER TOASTER OPTION in the user manual for details on multiple use toasters).


1. Limitations of Reverse Engineering: You may not disassemble, open, or otherwise alter this toaster.
2. Rental: You may not rent this toaster. Stuck, wedged or otherwise immobile toasted objects require removal by an authorized service technician.
3. Transfer: ACME has sold you a limited license to the use of this toaster. You may not transfer this license to another individual and are required to destroy this toaster or return it to ACME at your expense should you not require use of the toaster.

Superb idea! (5) (121677) | more than 13 years ago | (#410148)

I think this is a great idea, especially for things like aircraft components.

indoors (5)

wishus (174405) | more than 13 years ago | (#410149)

hrmm.. except that I can't receive GPS signals indoors on my Garmin GPS receiver. I doubt they're going to put a higher powered receiver in my dishwasher than I've got in my standalone, dedicated GPS receiver.

So I'll just unplug it if I need to take my dishwasher outside for anything...
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