back to article Brits to US tech firms: we need you!

The UK's outgoing Home Secretary John Reid told US consumer electronics kingpins today that if they spent as much time turning their products into crime-stopping gadgets as they did making them look nice and work well, we might wash petty crime from our streets. Reid, who has been courting industry groups of late, leaves his …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other ways to desing out crime

    How about providing us with a police service that has its priorities in order, and can deal with deterring mugging, etc.

    Now, who's job is that?

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just like making things fool-proof...

    Trying to make things criminal-proof (or even resistant) will just breed a better criminal...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US Companies?

    Did our Home Secretary really say '... that US competitors "Samsung, Panasonic, NEC, and HTC" were "conspicuous in their absence.'?

    Last time I looked Samsung were Korean, Panasonic and NEX Japanese and HTC Taiwanese. I didn't know these were US states. Did I miss some important news? How does the PRC feel about the US annexation of territory they consider and integral part of China?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fitness for purpose comes from Japan not USA

    The UK government only professes its own ignorance when it presumes that USA has the answer to its problems.

    For high quality, fitness for purpose, economy and all that's best in product design he should be looking to Japan.

    Honda has proved it with cars, Toshiba has proved it with laptops -- whatever you need, its the Japanese that can make them smaller, better, cheaper and more efficiently.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's right, in a way

    To an extent, I agree with him (which feels very uncomfortable).

    In 15 years, I have had my CD collection nicked 3 times. If the industry's obsession with DRM and copy protection and the like had extended to securing their media in a way that meant CDs DVDs etc would be useless to anyone who didn't have the appropriate user-specific PIN/key/whatever, they might actually have found consumers *supporting* some aspects of DRM (and there might be fewer dodgy dealers down the pub and the Sunday markets).

    But the industry doesn't give a monkey's about helping to protect the consumer. DRM in general has *no* benefits to the consumer, and will eventually fail - EMI's move to DRM-free iTunes, and the subsequent sales increase, shows the way forward.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pointing the finger

    It sounds like he is saying "We can't police the problem so it is up to you to make crime impossible". That hasn't exactly worked with other types of crime has it!

    It doesn't surprise me that the manufacturers aren't keen to play along. The UK isn't that big a market and this is far less of a problem elsewhere (I now live in a big US city and leave my GPS, ipod and phone on show in my parked car all the time as do all of my friends. They are always there when I get back. Oh how I miss the days of hiding things under my seats every time I parked in a UK town centre.).

    The only way to deter crime is education and stiffer penalties (and bothering to enforce them). It seems to me Mr Reid hasn't been able to improve things and so he's pointing the finger at anyone he can at the last minute.

  7. David Webb


    "Did our Home Secretary really say '... that US competitors "Samsung, Panasonic, NEC, and HTC" were "conspicuous in their absence.'?

    Last time I looked Samsung were Korean, Panasonic and NEX Japanese and HTC Taiwanese. I didn't know these were US states. Did I miss some important news? How does the PRC feel about the US annexation of territory they consider and integral part of China?"

    I guess they meant "Competitors of US firms"

  8. Dillon Pyron


    It's as if biometrics would suddenly solve all the theft problems. But putting a biometric system into a device increases the price, adds to the complexity and adds another point of failure.

    Walt Disney World uses a simple biometric device to prevent multi day tickets from being resold (the more days you buy, the cheaper the additional days are). They have about a 5% failure rate (scan doesn't match what's on file). So everybody has to sign their ticket and produce ID if needed. I wonder what the alternative access method would be for an iPod Shuffle.

    If someone could answer this question: How common is the theft of mobile devices in England? Is it a real problem or a perceived problem?

  9. Edward Hull


    I'm not sure if I really want to have to biometrically authenticate myself to my PDA every time I want to read an ebook or to my phone before every call.

    Sure, we could add biometric security to everything, but it would make for the most depressing enviroment.

    and what if the govenment required biometric devices to register their user details? sounds like they are trying to get a toe in the door of a biometric lifestyle to me...

    where has my tin-foil wallet lining gone?

  10. Kevin

    Americans?, help?, really?

    Pulease! America, Help?

    Good lord, Folks let me spell it out for you. America is headed for the toilet. Don't count on them to help. Take it from me, I'm a Yank. The intelligence of the American citizen has dipped to dangerously low levels. I guess its because of the 60+ years of success America enjoyed after the last world war(II). This success has had a bad effect on America's Citizenry. 62% (its been reported here) of all Americans are over-weight or, downright obese. Essentially, all these people do is sit on their butts and watch Americanized versions of TV shows created in the UK. Then, stuff themselves on junk-food. They also think excersize is dispicable four-letter word. No, Don't look for us to help, if anything we may need the help of you Brits. And finally, all I would add is, we used to be soooo much beter than this. Oh, and God Bless Tony Blair, at least he presents himself as leader. Not sure what our President is doing.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    biometric panacea

    It is the Japanese who have being incorporating biometric (thumb print) readers into things like cell phones, lap tops, mp3 players, not (as far as I am aware) the USA. I am not sure if the practice will make it over here or not, or indeed last that long, as from what I have heard the biometric technology is terribly unreliable.

    Pin authentication and encryption is much more reliable and equally secure, probably more so, in all the applications where biometrics are being touted for use.

    Thumb print readers have been demonstrated to be easy to fool using a lifted finger print and Jelly (Jello for the USA readers). As any stolen gadget will likely have said print on it (the reader being the 1st place one would check), it is almost as secure as taping your PIN number to the back of your ATM card.

    John Reid is demonstrating his total lack of understanding of the technology and it's limitations as well as a complete inability to think things through; with leaders like that is it any wonder were in the state we are in? The cynic in me wonders if he doesn't have some private interests in biometric technology that he would benefit from were it to become wide spread; where are all the investigative Journalists when you need them?

  12. Chris Harden

    you what?

    I write this from an IBM ThinkPad with a nice BioMetric fingerprint reader on it, which I tell ya, does a great job of.....saving me having to type my password at windows logon. It will not, however, stop someone nicking my laptop, reinstalling the OS, and selling it on - the fact its pretty much glued to my side 24*7 does that.

    When someone who is being assulted calls 999 and is informed that the police will turn up in 40 minutes, then completely fail to turn up at all (as happened to a friend of mine a few days ago - ironicly enough the only thing that stopped the large group of people beating the crap out of them was the typical English weather - it stormed on them) why are we blaming US tech companys?? It just shows how far up thier own orifices our government has thier heads.

  13. SImon Hobson Bronze badge

    Another hairbrained idea from a moron !

    All these devices would need some sort of 'factory reset' option - or what are you going to do when it goes worng/you sell it/you burn your finger/you want to lend it to a friend/<insert other reasons>

    So user gets inconvenience of haing to authenticate all the time, thief just does a factory reset and carries on as normal.

    Even better, thief cracks device - what's that, uncrackable you say ? Is there such a thing as 100% secure ? I don't think so. Having cracked security, thief now has copy of stored metrics for users fingerprint. How much use is that ? Well it won't let you reconstruct the fingerprint - or will it, I imagine it must be possible to device a fingerprint to match the coded metrics derived from it ?

    With such info and a bit of 'inside work', surely that allows the metrics to be fed into other systems - like all those security systems to get in and out of places where the same fingerprint will be used.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Inflated levels of phone theft

    Also I'd like to point out that one of the reasons that Britain has such a huge level of phone theft is that you just report it stolen if you want to get the latest and greatest version of the phone and the insurance does the rest. Obviously there are real thefts - but insurance is actually sold as a "replace your phone with a new one whenever you want" by a few phone salesmen.

    I haven't actually done that (no, really) but I have been told that I should have reported the theft within 24 hours (I stupidly waited until the club reopened after a weekend to see if one of the bouncers had handed it in - serves me right for trying to save them money) so I had to lie and tell Orange I had found it again and then had it stolen again.

    All they do is ask for a crime number or PC badge number which involves a 2 minute call to the local police station to register it missing.

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