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Federal Smartphone Kill-Switch Legislation Proposed

samzenpus posted about 8 months ago | from the shut-it-down dept.

Cellphones 173

alphadogg writes "Pressure on the cellphone industry to introduce technology that could disable stolen smartphones has intensified with the introduction of proposed federal legislation that would mandate such a system. Senate bill 2032, 'The Smartphone Prevention Act,' was introduced to the U.S. Senate this week by Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat. The bill promises technology that allows consumers to remotely wipe personal data from their smartphones and render them inoperable. But how that will be accomplished is currently unclear. The full text of the bill was not immediately available and the offices of Klobuchar and the bill's co-sponsors were all shut down Thursday due to snow in Washington, D.C."

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The Safe Bet Here (4, Insightful)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 8 months ago | (#46242175)

This technology will be co-opted and otherwise downright available to the TLA government agencies.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

khasim (1285) | about 8 months ago | (#46242345)

This technology will be co-opted and otherwise downright available to the TLA government agencies.

If I were working for one of those agencies I'd save myself the stress and just keep the personal phone numbers of the CEO's at the phone companies on my speed dial.

When I wanted a phone "killed" I'd just call up the CEO of that phone company and have him have his people disable the phone plan for "non-payment" or whatever.

Plausible deniability and the hardware still works.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46242369)

"When I wanted a phone "killed" I'd just call up the CEO of that phone company and have him have his people disable the phone plan for "non-payment" or whatever."

You've missed the point.

It's not about having "a phone" killed. It's about the ability to have phoneS killed. Plural.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (2)

khasim (1285) | about 8 months ago | (#46242411)

It's not about having "a phone" killed. It's about the ability to have phoneS killed. Plural.

No. I intentionally decided against the paranoid option.

What purpose would it serve for the NSA to brick a bunch of phoneS at one time?

Other than making a very big, very public story? Which would get a LOT of airplay in the media.

If the NSA needs service cut in a specific area they can already do that.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (2, Insightful)

Christopher McGinnis (2906511) | about 8 months ago | (#46242437)

The NSA could use it to kill communications when the uprising begins.

Re: The Safe Bet Here (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242565)

The NSA can and will shutdown all cell and landline networks if they need to they certainly do not need yet another mandatory client on individual phones. This is about an individual govt lowlife being able to shutdown a phone and wipe the video footage that might be on it that is somehow even just remotely embarassing to them. I am pretty sure the scum who beat that homeless guy to death in Fullertown CA would have loved to shutdown and wipe all the witnesses cell phones.

Stream it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242777)

This is already circumvented by the fact you can live-stream to the internet. Wipe the phone, crush it under a cop's boot-heel it won't help them 'cause it's stored and mirrored in a server in Amsterdam or wherever.

Re:Stream it (2)

mysidia (191772) | about 8 months ago | (#46243029)

This is already circumvented by the fact you can live-stream to the internet.

Tablets and Laptops will be included.

Your desktop is sure to follow.

Also... I believe when they say "wiped" they really mean "Locked", so that only law enforcement such as the NSA folks can get the secret keys from the phone company, required to decrypt the data

Re:The Safe Bet Here (2)

mjwx (966435) | about 8 months ago | (#46242667)

The NSA could use it to kill communications when the uprising begins.

Why would they need to target individual handsets?

If an uprising gets to the point where you need to censor communications en mass they'll just switch off the towers.

Identifying all the people in an uprising is extremely difficult and getting disposable burn phones is extremely easy... and when the govt can simply take over the underlying infrastructure both are entirely pointless.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 8 months ago | (#46243063)

Because there is still wifi and satalite phones that they cant as simply lock down by flipping a breaker at the nearest cell tower.

Why would they want to. (1)

bl968 (190792) | about 8 months ago | (#46242611)

Could be anything from insurrection, a terrorist attack, a plague, to a Christoph Dornier type manhunt. A hacker would certainly find it entertaining to disable their targets cell phones. remember the movie the Net, Enemy of the State, Swordfish, or a dozen others. The only person who should be able to disable a phone should be the owner of the phone, and law enforcement with the owners permission; or a court order identifying the specific phone to be disabled.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242647)

If they have their people go and have towers shut down, they're shutting down our networks.
If "magically" tens of thousands of phones suddenly become inoperable, "WE'RE BEING ATTACKED".

One of these gets you riots, the other is the first three words of every request for bigger budgets.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 8 months ago | (#46242983)

What purpose would it serve for the NSA to brick a bunch of phoneS at one time?

To stop a revolution?

When asking yourself if any new power the government gains is good or bad, you need to think of more than just the immediate future. Instead think "If in 50 years or so, we elect the next Hitler to office, what's the worst he could do with this new power?"

In 50 years that's entirely possible that we'd swing to some extreme that we'd make such a mistake... over 100 years it's twice as likely. 500? Countries are around for a very long time, and government NEVER gives up power. So when we do get our next tyrant, what could he do with the ability to disable all mobile communication at once? Will there be any other kind of communication by that point? Wouldn't it be, in effect, the ability to silence the entire populace?

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | about 8 months ago | (#46243289)

Given the 50 years ago, the height of technology was the just introduced "Touch Tone Phone", I am not expecting the mode of communication to resemble the current "Smart Phone"

But yes, they can shut down the grid now, what this gives them is the ability to shut down specific groups... like say a political party on election day.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 8 months ago | (#46242959)

"When I wanted a phone "killed" I'd just call up the CEO of that phone company and have him have his people disable the phone plan for "non-payment" or whatever."

You've missed the point. It's not about having "a phone" killed. It's about the ability to have phoneS killed. Plural.

You think the government couldn't do that already? All they need to do is send a list of phone numbers (or account holder SSNs, or IMEIs, etc) and a scary national security letter and tell them to kill the accounts?. Boom. Done.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 8 months ago | (#46242433)

Heh heh.

Thank goodness our people in government employ are often less crafty than that.

If they were more competent, mass surveillance might still be a tin-hatter conspiracy theory.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242355)

Mod parent up.
 
And to expand on the parent's point, why exactly is this law being passed? More succinctly -- how are the phones stolen? Violent muggings? No, probably not, just stupid fucks leaving their 600-dollar toy in the trolley, or on the table when they leave the restaurant, in their classroom seat in front of that observant Black student, or in the D.C. Hotel where the expensive Jewish prostitute ran off with it and a plane ticket to Tel Aviv to be dissected by America's Greatest Ally after the congressional romp in the sack.
 
Or perhaps it's ingenuously-crafted law to cut off your comms when martial law kicks in and you're now only allowed to believe the official narratives, packaged in a manner to appeal to shallow and materialistic idiots so you all won't give it a second thought.
 
No-siree, Americans aren't idiots. Nope. Fuck Beta.
 
  -- Ethanol-fueled

Re:The Safe Bet Here (2)

Sowelu (713889) | about 8 months ago | (#46242719)

Unfortunately, you are wrong: Violent muggings IS the way they are stolen. Many cities have seen a downturn in most violent crime, BUT a sharp rise in cell phone muggings. There is a wide demand from police stations all over the country to find some way to reduce the value of stolen cell phones and thus prevent those cell phone muggings. Bricking stolen phones would accomplish that very quickly, stop thefts, and even save lives.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (4, Informative)

Sowelu (713889) | about 8 months ago | (#46242731)

Just so you don't think I'm pulling it out of my ass:

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/... [sfgate.com]
Official police statistics show that there were more than 40 cell phone muggings in November. The number may not seem high, but it is unsettling with just a portion of the crimes reported, and virtually all of them involve a gun, knife or physical assault.

http://mashable.com/2012/12/20... [mashable.com]
Officer Gordon Shyy, media relations unit of the San Francisco Police Department, tells Mashable they don't have any data about whether cellphones deterred crime in the 90s, but said today cellphone muggings are "an epidemic nationwide."
From January 2012 through Nov. 30, 2012, there were approximately 1,732 cellphone related thefts reported in San Francisco out of a total of 3,487 robberies — making 50% of all robberies cellphone related.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about 8 months ago | (#46242897)

Did the thief explicitly set out to steal a phone, or did the thief just set out to rob somebody and they happened to have a phone? That data really doesn't distinguish the two.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 8 months ago | (#46243013)

How would you even measure something like that?

Re:The Safe Bet Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46243055)

So someone figures out how to alter the phone so it's not recognized as the one trying to be killed. Then the phone thieves turn off the phone after they steal it, don't turn it back on until it's modded, and the only people who it deters are the casual phone thieves.

Plus you get the added bonus of someone with access to the kill switch fucking something up and wiping a completely unstolen phone, probably without a way to recover what was on it.

Legislation that taxed the rich and encouraged a greater level of wealth equality would go a lot further to cutting down on violent muggings than any bullshit about cellphones could ever hope to do.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242737)

Go home, Schlomo. Don't you have some Golan Heights to bulldoze?

-- Ethanol-fueled

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

Citizen of Earth (569446) | about 8 months ago | (#46242499)

It'll be hackers and the Chinese military that brick these American smartphones before the NSA does.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242501)

Exactly. The Republicans will use it to devastate the used phone market. AT&T has been asking for the government to do this for years to force minorities and the poor to sign multi-year contracts in order to get service.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (4, Informative)

tsqr (808554) | about 8 months ago | (#46242753)

Exactly. The Republicans will use it to devastate the used phone market.

I guess you missed the part where the bill's author is a Democratic Senator.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242809)

You shouldn't believe Faux Knews. This is something the Republicans are pushing for. They want to be able to remotely make the things we own useless. Rich people can afford to buy a new phone, but they know that for the average person, that votes Democrat, that we will not be able to afford a replacement. That is what this is about.

Re:The Safe Bet Here (3, Funny)

Richy_T (111409) | about 8 months ago | (#46243303)

Ah yes, I remember also when those evil Republicans devastated the used car market with that "cash for clunkers" programme.

Oh, wait...

Re:The Safe Bet Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46243225)

Fuck you! Tow the party line, bitch!

Re:The Safe Bet Here (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 8 months ago | (#46243217)

This technology will be co-opted and otherwise downright available to the TLA government agencies.

And what are the odds that it will only be a "kill" switch?

I'm pretty sure it will end up being multipurpose for the purpose of enhancing surveillance and data collection.

The most worrisome part of this is how the security and intelligence-gathering agencies are feeling bold enough to drop all pretense.

Also, I am struck by how differently we react to these stories since the Edward Snowden revelations. Some of us had suspicions, but it was always so easy to dismiss them as paranoia. Thank god we had the opportunity to know for sure, as long as we summon the will to fight back.

I assume it's a typo... (2)

mhkohne (3854) | about 8 months ago | (#46242181)

But if it really is called the 'Smartphone Prevention Act', that would pretty much say everything needed about this government, wouldn't it?

My post has no typo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242269)

Now if we can only get a Federal Slashdot Beta Prevention Act.

Fuck Beta!

Re:I assume it's a typo... (3, Interesting)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | about 8 months ago | (#46242407)

Somehow Dice can keep people on staff to do an interface rewrite that nobody wants, and yet they can't find somebody to proofread a dozen paragraphs of text per day.

The mistake is in the original article as well (actual name is of course the "Smartphone Theft Prevention Act"), but that doesn't excuse the /. editors for not engaging their brains.

Re:I assume it's a typo... (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#46242579)

but that doesn't excuse the /. editors for not engaging their brains.

Wouldn't they need to meet the prerequisite of having a functioning one, first?

Re:I assume it's a typo... (1)

kumanopuusan (698669) | about 8 months ago | (#46242851)

No Thanks (3, Insightful)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46242183)

If I can brick my phone over the air, so can THEY, and I don't trust THEM.

Re:No Thanks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242239)

"They" can already brick your phone over the air. How do you think the phone communicates with outside world?

Re:No Thanks (2)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46242293)

"They" can already brick your phone over the air. How do you think the phone communicates with outside world?

Uh, however I want it to? My phone isn't a brick without a cellular connection to the PSTN.

My phone has WiFi, Bluetooth, USB, HDMI, local storage, a microSD card, a camera, a microphone, etc.
It's an extremely useful device without phone service, and it's an extremely useful device without WAN access as it will still have LAN access.

Re:No Thanks (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46242389)

So you rooted your phone and installed a bootloader that refuses the telco-sponsored updates? If not, you can be bricked OTA at any time. Some updates have inadvertently done it, so to pretend they couldn't do it deliberately is a bit silly.

Re:No Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242399)

I keep mine in a faraday cage, of course.

Re:No Thanks (0)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46242427)

So you rooted your phone and installed a bootloader that refuses the telco-sponsored updates? If not, you can be bricked OTA at any time. Some updates have inadvertently done it, so to pretend they couldn't do it deliberately is a bit silly.

My phone was "rooted" out of the box. It doesn't "refuse" the OTA updates, it doesn't do shit. I have the ability to accept or decline such updates. Not that my telco would ever push one to me or even fucking know how as my phone was not purchased through them.

Keep on being AK Marc though - always contrarian because you're an asshole, always wrong because you're a dumbass.

Re:No Thanks (2)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46242529)

Most phones sold through carriers can be bricked remotely. Your comment seemed to imply that a smartphone is still useful without a WAN. While that may be true if it isn't bricked, the vast majority can be bricked remotely. That you imply otherwise makes you the contrarian dumbass.

Re:No Thanks (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 8 months ago | (#46242617)

On the surface here, it would be rather easy to infer you meant to call marc without a k a dumbass asshole.

I can also infer from your soberly coherent posting skills that a man of your intellectual prowess is above such base behavior.

Ergo, I read the ass-ass as a double negative, implying reverance and not scorn.

Re:No Thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46243079)

This idiot sexconker notwithstanding, I think the point is that it makes it a whole lot easier to brick a phone OTA if every phone has a killswitch built-in. More importantly, it makes it a whole lot easier to brick a whole lot of phones.

Even if you trust the telecos to not brick your phone, do you really trust them to not allow (advertently or inadvertently) someone else to do so? You'd have to be as dumb as sexconker to be that naive.

Re:No Thanks (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#46242243)

Most reasonably, bricking a device OTA would require using a code which is set by the user of the device when they first get it, and does not get reset simply by changing sim cards. When a person legitimately sells their phone or trades it in for an upgraded phone, they would have to clear that code first,,, and clearing it should in turn require that the current one be entered on the device first.

Now obviously, this isn't going to stop a thief who is so desperate to steal your cell phone that he will threaten you with extreme bodily harm or death if you don't give him the code so that he can clear it himself, but I'd dare say that doesn't account for most cell phone thefts, which are probably just grab-n-dash.

Re:No Thanks (2)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46242311)

Nope. The telecoms will have master keys since grannyw ill forget her code and the government will have backdoors to fuck your shit.
Your error was in thinking that we'd get a reasonable implementation that focused on security.

Re:No Thanks (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 8 months ago | (#46242375)

Which is why the first two words of my above post were carefully chosen: "Most reasonably,...."

Re:No Thanks (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 8 months ago | (#46242597)

Why would the government want to brick some people's phone? How can they track, snoop on the calls and capture metadata from a bricked phone?

Re:No Thanks (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 8 months ago | (#46243131)

So you cant call 911 to get local cops when your home is being raided by black SUV driving feds that don't tell the local cops when they are about to bust you? So you when turn on the camera and start live streaming to youtube of the raid and set it down somewhere unlikely to be seen they can kill the stream. That would be my guess.

Re:No Thanks (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 8 months ago | (#46242275)

Sorry, "They" already can do this. Your US carrier already sells a monthly "protection" package that enables this remote wipe capability for you, so the remote wipe capablity is already loaded onto your phone.

So this legislation "should" [as I haven't read through it, and it does not seem to be publicly available yet] remote the monthly fee the carriers charge.

And just to show I'm an apple-fanboy, the fact that the carriers charge $10 or more per month to enable this for non-Apple smartphones, but don't block and can't charge for it for iPhones/iPads [and Apple doesn't charge extra for it] is another sign of customer demand for iPhones [vs sales of other phones].

Re:No Thanks (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 8 months ago | (#46242371)

Sorry, "They" already can do this. Your US carrier already sells a monthly "protection" package that enables this remote wipe capability for you, so the remote wipe capablity is already loaded onto your phone.

So this legislation "should" [as I haven't read through it, and it does not seem to be publicly available yet] remote the monthly fee the carriers charge.

And just to show I'm an apple-fanboy, the fact that the carriers charge $10 or more per month to enable this for non-Apple smartphones, but don't block and can't charge for it for iPhones/iPads [and Apple doesn't charge extra for it] is another sign of customer demand for iPhones [vs sales of other phones].

Except my carrier does NOT have the ability to remotely wipe my phone.

Everything that man says is the verbal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242203)

equivalent of "lorem ipsum." It's just nonsense placeholders. Of course, all of his fellow Republicans are the same so I don't know why I expected different from someone of his kind.

Just because you can... (4, Insightful)

DittoBox (978894) | about 8 months ago | (#46242207)

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Just like the remote kill switch that was proposed in cars. This is a solution looking for a problem, and more over it's a solution that's ripe for abuse.

Re:Just because you can... (1)

El Cubano (631386) | about 8 months ago | (#46242251)

This is just another example of the nanny state. If I want a phone with remote kill switch or wipe capability, I will buy one that has it, or one on which I can install an app that has the capability. They do exist. Making this capability mandatory is only going to increase the cost of phones.

There are instances where such an increase in cost to the consumer is arguably warranted (e.g., seatbelts, airbags, etc.). But there is no public safety or public health argument here. It is strictly a matter of convenience.

Re:Just because you can... (2)

JeffAtl (1737988) | about 8 months ago | (#46242319)

But there is no public safety or public health argument here. It is strictly a matter of convenience.

Sure there is. Smartphone robberies are spiking crime rates. If thieves were aware that a stolen phone was useless then the crimes should go down.

Re:Just because you can... (2)

khasim (1285) | about 8 months ago | (#46242457)

Smartphone robberies are spiking crime rates. If thieves were aware that a stolen phone was useless then the crimes should go down.

As seems to be the case in Australia where they are already doing this.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/nevius/article/An-easy-way-to-curb-smart-phone-thieves-2344797.php [sfgate.com]

Re:Just because you can... (1)

mjwx (966435) | about 8 months ago | (#46242703)

Smartphone robberies are spiking crime rates. If thieves were aware that a stolen phone was useless then the crimes should go down.

As seems to be the case in Australia where they are already doing this.

http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/nevius/article/An-easy-way-to-curb-smart-phone-thieves-2344797.php [sfgate.com]

Australian here, this doesn't work.

Firstly because it's IMEI blocking on participating carriers. So all you need to do is sell the stolen phone overseas where the carriers don't give a fat rats clacker about the IMEI's Australia blocks. Secondly, you end up with unsuspecting people buying stolen phones with blocked IMEI's.
1. Theif sells phone
2. Purchaser doesn't know phone on Ebay (or Gumtree) is stolen
3. Purchaser gets useless phone
There's no shortage of idiots to fill the role in step 2.

Carrier based phone bricking also doesn't work because you can disable it by removing the SIM card and then selling it on Ebay. Also selling it overseas ensures that you never connect to another Australian carrier ever again.

Also there are people who never report their phone stolen. I know someone who loses phones on a regular basis (every 3 or 4 months). He wouldn't even think of reporting one as stolen.

Re:Just because you can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46243155)

Yes it is not a perfect system but what is, at the end of the day it is meant to discourage theft of phones by making it useless
Yes I know they can get around it with some time and effort

Essentially I lost my phone, called the carrier they bricked it and sent me a new phone as I am on contract and had insurance and they knew the phone would not be used in Australia on the main carriers

I am still surprised that it is still a point of discussion in the states this seems to be a annual topic and if you have a issue with violent muggings over phones it seems a pretty straight forward way of dealing with the issue given that it is been applied in several other countries

Off topic: if this system is flawed what other system do you think will lead to a reduction in phone muggings?

Re:Just because you can... (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 8 months ago | (#46242559)

Smartphone robberies are spiking crime rates.

While that's certainly possible, the fact is that robbery rates are 40% of what they were 20 years ago.

Which tends to suggest that smartphone robberies are getting a lot of publicity, but aren't really that big a deal.

Re: Just because you can... (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 months ago | (#46242577)

It's really quite a bit like herd immunity.

Re:Just because you can... (1)

Mr.CRC (2330444) | about 8 months ago | (#46243179)

So what? Let the people figure out how to be less vulnerable. Letting them take a shot at the crooks would go a long way toward fixing this! We don't need another stupid law. You can be sure that whatever the government does will just f*ck things up worse, or have some diabolical hidden agenda.

HOWTO: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242349)

HOWTO Remote kill phone [pcmag.com]

iPhone requires having an iCloud account.

Android has push capabilities. Micrsoft's is pretty good too I don't know if you have to create a windowsphone.com account since I don't have a Windows phone. And Blackberry allows you too, but who wants a Blackberry? Theft wouldn't be an issue for them. :-P

Re:Just because you can... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242367)

Don't disable, track IMEI and have a process where /with a warrant/ (IE reaction to a reported theft) the phone is actively tracked and reported to local LEOs as a stolen device. Theoretically carriers could do this without being compelled, but in reality it is not in their interests to do so.

If this were done globally then there'd be zero incentive to take phones (though that doesn't prevent incentive to bug them/take their data).

Re:Just because you can... (1)

Mistakill (965922) | about 8 months ago | (#46242465)

Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. Just like the remote kill switch that was proposed in cars. This is a solution looking for a problem, and more over it's a solution that's ripe for abuse.

Exactly... if there's a switch, it will be exploited... just look at the encryption on Blu-ray or DVD's... or even some of the RSA encryptions... no matter how good the digital lock, it will be broken eventually...

And what's going to stop somebody else from doing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242221)

And, let's see how long after this goes into effect that one of them has THEIR phone hacked and wiped/killed and they all bitch that they hate it and want that feature removed by law?

Trying out the beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242241)

And it is shlasdot apporved, beta lovers to the max!

After Public backlash ... Next Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242273)

Federal Smartphone Kill-Switch Legislation Killed

Apple is already compliant (2)

Powercntrl (458442) | about 8 months ago | (#46242325)

As others have stated, this is exactly how Apple's iCloud lock works. If the owner of the device remotely locks it or it is factory reset through iTunes, it will be useless except for displaying a screen prompting for the owner's Apple ID and password. So far, all it has really accomplished is giving some extra headache to businesses that accept phone trade-ins and slightly lowering the value of lost/stolen iDevices on eBay [ebay.com] . We also already have a national IMEI blacklist, which mostly seems to have succeeded only in increasing the number of scam artists re-selling unusable phones [howardforums.com] to gullible people (in most cases, they're generally not stolen - the sleazy cell phone companies here in the US are happy to block a phone's serial number if the phone was associated with a service contract or handset financing plan and the previous owner defaulted on it).

Besides, what's to stop a thief from taking a page out of the trade-in services' books and simply demanding you turn off/sign out of your phone's remote kill switch feature? If they're threatening someone at gun/knife point, it's not exactly like the victim would have much choice in the matter.

If people are being robbed, your city has a crime problem that needs to be solved with good, old fashioned police work.

Re:Apple is already compliant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242423)

If people are being robbed, your city has a crime problem that needs to be solved with good, old fashioned police work.
 
Police? Really? American police are jokes. They don't bother with you if you're not speeding, smoking grass or shooting at them. They're only there to thump on you, not to "protect and serve."

Re:Apple is already compliant (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242447)

Police are a bunch of faggots [punkandpissed.com] .

Re:Apple is already compliant (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 8 months ago | (#46242607)

As others have stated, this is exactly how Apple's iCloud lock works.

Android has this functionality as well. You do ostensibly have to activate it first, though. Or you can get it with an app if you want a different big brother than Google, via Cerberus.

Big deal... (0)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 8 months ago | (#46242357)

I was going to post a rant about a kill switch law not going far enough, that we need complete control over our antenna equipped devices, but that seems to be so futile a hope by now.

Instead, here's a link to a substitute to "Flappy Birds" for browsers for those feeling deprived.... http://www.dogetek.co/game/ [dogetek.co]

Re:Big deal... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242387)

rant about a kill switch law not going far enough, that we need complete control over our antenna equipped devices

Sounds like the law is going too far the other way, it's giving the government complete control over your antenna equipped devices.

Re:Big deal... (1)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about 8 months ago | (#46242395)

Sounds like the law is going too far the other way, it's giving the government complete control over your antenna equipped devices.

And we're the suckers who pay good money for the ability to be tracked, spied on, etc... "They" should be paying us.

evilly tapping fingers together. (1)

ebonum (830686) | about 8 months ago | (#46242453)

Will this be activated by simply logging into someone else's, oops. I mean, _MY_ Apple/Google account and filling out a form? No reason why. Just wondering.

Don't do a kill switch (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about 8 months ago | (#46242493)

Do a blacklist instead. Phone on the blacklist? Don't allow it on the network (and call the cops). A kill switch invites abuse more than an industry blacklist might.

Not So Smart Phone Prevention Act (1)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 8 months ago | (#46242515)

A not so smart Act to kill phones. That's how I interpret this.

How will it be accomplished? (1)

koan (80826) | about 8 months ago | (#46242533)

By installi9ng special government software, that there is even a question how shows how fucking retarded this country has become.

Unconstitutional (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 8 months ago | (#46242587)

The federal government has no legal authority to mandate this technology.

Re:Unconstitutional (1)

Sowelu (713889) | about 8 months ago | (#46242769)

Does it have the authority to mandate vaccines?

They might seem unrelated, but consider:
- If thieves know that a stolen smartphone is worthless, they will stop stealing them.
- However, they only know a stolen smartphone is worthless if ALL cell phones can be bricked if stolen.
- Much like being one vaccinated person in a country of unvaccinated people is actually pretty weak protection, it doesn't do you any good to have the only phone that bricks when stolen. By the time your mugger finds out it's worthless, you've already had it stolen at knifepoint.
- Police departments all over the country are calling cell phone muggings an epidemic. It's a HUGE trend. It has serious, real-world implications on public safety and health (being stabbed for your phone is unhealthy).

So yes, this mandate would absolutely improve public safety, and that is absolutely within the government's power to regulate.

Re:Unconstitutional (1)

The Cat (19816) | about 8 months ago | (#46243021)

Does it have the authority to mandate vaccines?

No.

this mandate would absolutely improve public safety, and that is absolutely within the government's power to regulate.

Public safety (aside from protection against military attack) is outside the jurisdiction of the federal government. The Constitution clearly withholds police power from the federal government (and for good reason). It is a state issue.

Re:Unconstitutional (1)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about 8 months ago | (#46243089)

The Constitution grants power to regulate interstate commerce to the federal government. They can totally railroad this through on that basis.

Devil's Advocate (4, Informative)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about 8 months ago | (#46242619)

It's spurred mostly by the fact that AT&T and T-Mobile have been sand-bagging, claiming GSM/SIM's don't allow for black-listing. The utility of Sprint and Verizon's blacklists is predicated on the "SIM" being integral to a CDMA phone; they can limit access to their networks to phones locked to their networks. The proliferation of phones containing GSM, CDMA and LTE hardware regardless of the carrier's network, opens the distinct possibility of a stolen phone being unlocked/jailbroken/rooted and re-used on a different carrier, rendering even Sprint and Verizon's blacklist useless.

This law is looking to have all the carriers actually implement a lost/stolen black-list, and to further have communication between the carriers, so that a black-listed phone can't be re-used on anybody's network. This sounds like something that could (and should) be implemented in response to market forces. The proliferation of passive anti-theft systems in late model cars provides a good model. There's no legal requirement for car-makers to implement RFID-encoded key-fobs, yet they are nearly ubiquitous and have massively reduced theft of vehicles so equipped.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

Nethead (1563) | about 8 months ago | (#46242711)

This law is looking to have all the carriers actually implement a lost/stolen no-fly list..

And with a simple typo your $500 phone is now just an MP3 player.

Re:Devil's Advocate (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 8 months ago | (#46243165)

It's spurred mostly by the fact that AT&T and T-Mobile have been sand-bagging, claiming GSM/SIM's don't allow for black-listing.

This would naturally come as a great shock to the rest of the world which has a black-listing service and use GSM / SIM's.

how about a killswitch on politicians (1)

FudRucker (866063) | about 8 months ago | (#46242739)

so if they are found to be breaking the law or any misconduct they find their phones wont work, their computers wont have internet access, their credit cards wont work, their automobiles wont start and they have to ask a police officer to take them to jail until their transgression is cleared up

What about when it backfires on the government? (1)

Chubby_C (874060) | about 8 months ago | (#46242741)

What will the reaction be when someone has their phone seized by the police and then wipe it remotely?

Re:What about when it backfires on the government? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242869)

Please, lord, yes. I'm bringing popcorn to that court case.

It's not the shutting down (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46242883)

It's not the shutting down I would want as a government, it would be the ability to destroy data. You filmed the incident you say?

How about we start with banning IMEIs? (1)

dirk (87083) | about 8 months ago | (#46242981)

We really don't need another mechanism to prevent cell phone theft, we already have it. Each phone has a unique IMEI number associated with it. In most other countries if your phone is stolen, you report it and your carrier, along with all the other carriers, ban the IMEI number so the phone cannot be activated on any cellular network. This basically makes the phone useless.

We could easily implement this in the US, but the cell phone carriers refuse to do it. If I had to guess, the reason they don't want to do this is because if your phone gets stolen they get to sell you a brand new non-subsidized phone at full price, which makes them a lot of money. So why would they want to do anything that would help cut down on the number of stolen phones, since each one translates into more money for them?

So why should we set up a new system that can be potentially hacked and abused to wipe phone when all we have to do is to force the cellular carriers to ban the IMEI numbers of stolen phones?

Re:How about we start with banning IMEIs? (1)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about 8 months ago | (#46243097)

Not to mention but the stolen phone that's not black-listed could find itself re-activated on their network, and that's another customer gained or retained without having to subsidize their phone.

Re:How about we start with banning IMEIs? (1)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about 8 months ago | (#46243123)

And they're making out like bandits with the rip-off "lost phone insurance".

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... [huffingtonpost.com]

Re:How about we start with banning IMEIs? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 8 months ago | (#46243139)

the reason they don't want to do this is because if your phone gets stolen they get to sell you a brand new non-subsidized phone at full price, which makes them a lot of money.

In that case: I suggest we have a law that says: Immediately after any carrier has been presented proper notice, that a phone with a certain IMEI has been stolen, that carrier shall become liable for 100 times the original retail price of that phone, in the event that the phone is used on their network more than 5 days after the notification, because the carrier fails to prevent the phone's use on their network.

In the event that law enforcement officers deem the carrier to be helpful in the recovery of the stolen phone and successful apprehension and arrest of a suspected criminal with sufficient evidence to prosecute, the release of the phone from law enforcement, and the reinstatement of the phone on the network will be contingent upon the payment by the owner of the phone, of a $100 reward, to be shared evenly by the assisting carriers, and an additional $1000 reward payment, that the thief shall be liable to pay upon conviction of the charges.

Why smart phones? (2)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 8 months ago | (#46243053)

Why not laptops?
Why not cars?
Why not any of a thousand things that are stolen all the time.

I wouldn't mind this as much in cars or laptops. I'm pretty sure I could disable it if I wanted. But in a smartphone? How?

This whole thing gives me the creeps.

Re:Why smart phones? (2)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about 8 months ago | (#46243241)

Theft by mugging is People don't carry laptops around at nearly the same rate they do smartphones, so the theft by mugging isn't nearly as big a problem. When laptops get stolen it's typically because the owner was careless and left it unattended. Meanwhile violent muggings, where people's cell phones are stolen, is reaching epidemic proportions in major cities. In the 90's people got jacked for their Air Jordan's, now it's for their iPhones. And unlike many other commonly stolen items, this anti-theft capability can be added at no incremental cost. Hell, the iOS Find My iPhone function is already nearly compliant with the proposed California and federal "kill switch" legislation. If they changed the initial setup such that it was enabled by default, it would be compliant in all respects.

As for cars, just about every car made in the last decade and a half has a passive anti-theft system. These systems have been credited with reducing theft of certain models by 90%. Don't have the right programmed smart key? That car isn't starting without some major effort. The process to replace lost or stolen keys is byzantine, inconvenient, and unique to each manufacturer, by design.

Re:Why smart phones? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 8 months ago | (#46243311)

In regards to cars, should I bother showing you the videos on youtube of people beating those keys? Its old hat at this point.

As to killswitches in the smartphone.... my only concern is that "I" am the only one able to trigger it.

Not Apple.
Not the phone company.
Not the Federal government.

My phone. If you set it up so that only "I" can kill it. I'm happy with it. If you're given that power to some external agency that didn't buy or pay for my phone then what right do they have to have that kind of power over my phone?

So... there you go.

Comply with that or this is creepy bullshit.

Correct bill title (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 8 months ago | (#46243173)

A bill to require mobile service providers and mobile device manufacturers to give consumers the ability to remotely delete data from mobile devices and render such devices inoperable [loc.gov] . I'm not sure where this shorter title that is traversing the internet is coming from, it was never a submitted title for the bill.

Public Safety vs. Big Brother (1)

JonBoy47 (2813759) | about 8 months ago | (#46243265)

So there's a definite public safety problem going on, with people getting mugged for their phones and what-not. For the record, I think this concern is what's driving this legislation. But there's definitely room for the Big Brother Let's Stop the Flash-Mob-esque City Square Filling Demonstrations appeal to the Kill Switch, so the government shouldn't have any access to it. Hell, ideally the carriers shouldn't either. Make it something only the customer can initiate.

This is a Wolf in Sheep's clothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46243275)

As others have mentioned, this won't be used exclusively for the owners of the phone. It will be used by the government.

already have it don't they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46243329)

Can't they do it already. I came across some option in the settings of my Android phone that was for remote factory default or something. Like use a web site to erase your phone. It won't disable it but would wipe data I guess. I want remote explosive triggering, like overheat the battery and burn the jerk who stole my phone.

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