back to article KILL SWITCH 'BLOCKED by cell operators' to pad PROFITS, thunders D.A.

Some of the biggest US cellular networks have been accused of preventing Samsung from installing anti-theft remote "kill switch" software on smartphones: supposedly, because they were worried it would eventually cut into profits. San Francisco district attorney George Gascón said he had been working with Sammy to get the …


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  1. Steven Roper

    In light of this

    Does anyone here seriously believe that allowing private enterprise to replace or take over the functions of government will result in improvements?

    These corporations have to be lashed by legislation every step of the way. And those who raise the reflexive cry of "Communism!" every time someone opposes corporate domination of any aspect of human endeavour must be exposed for the shills they are. No legal leeway whatsoever can be given to these psychopathic "entities" whose obsession with profit supersedes even their consideration of human life.

    1. Chad H.

      Re: In light of this

      Well given government interference meant we had the IMEI blacklist here years ago, and the yanks refused to use it even when technically possible... and government interference meant we had a GSM standard to start with (and thus could roam easier), mobile phones are a great argument for government intervention.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Re: In light of this

      Steven, you sound like the sort of deluded person who thinks it's good that water/food/air are regulated to ensure that they are safe!

      Next you''ll be saying that you agree with the stringent tests new cars have to go through, along with building safety codes, and those pesky fire regulations!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Logic courtesy of the American mobile phone industry.

      Goes some way to explaining the failings of their education system and mentality.

    4. RyokuMas

      Re: In light of this

      "Does anyone here seriously believe that allowing private enterprise to replace or take over the functions of government will result in improvements?"

      Depends how corrupt the private enterprise is vs the government. Here it seems like a race to the bottom between the two...

    5. Eddy Ito

      Re: In light of this

      This is actually a rather poor example that "corporations have to be lashed by legislation". Following a few simple links you can find out that you are free to install the software yourself. Well, free meaning $2.50/month. The question is what was the actual deal that was offered and rejected? Could it be one that shifts most of the burden to the network operators and the profits to Sammy and the software company?

      Perhaps some company went running to outspoken DA Gascón and whinging about the operators not accepting their lousy deal because they are mean and aren't thinking of the children and the hero of the hour then dutifully ran to the NY Times to proclaim how evil the network operators are. Don't get me wrong, the network operators are likely evil but no more so than any other company. The problem is that most people buy the phone on the operator's plan, don't see the true cost of the phone and probably don't want to know. In the end, the consumer is usually capable of caring for himself albeit at the cost of self education of how the system works. Our superhero DA, like the corporations, don't really want the consumer to be so educated because both lose power.

      I get that phone theft is akin to disease and near universal kill switches on the phones will provide herd immunity but that isn't going to happen if only a handful of Sammy phones are so equipped. It has to be something standardized and portable in order to make it universal, or nearly so, and easy for anyone to implement so you don't get locked in to a single company.

      1. Lennart Sorensen

        Re: In light of this

        Well if Samsung sells half the worlds smartphones, then actually Samsung alone doing this would make a difference.

        And yes the cell phone companies are vastly more evil than your average company. Especially in North America.

  2. Tom 35

    How stupid are they?

    "sponsoring legislation that would make tampering with phones so they didn't show up on the database an offense."

    Oh dear, I just beat someone up and took their $600 phone and it's all for nothing... I can't tamper with the phone or I'll get in trouble.

    Why don't they make not turning your self in to the police after committing a crime an offence too.

    1. Chad H.

      Re: How stupid are they?

      Well Tom. It works. See also: Europe.

    2. Francis Boyle

      Re: How stupid are they?

      While they're at it they might as well get rid of those pointless "receiving stolen goods" laws as well.

  3. -tim

    Nothing new to see, just move along

    A friend was showing anti-theft location technology in Australia over a decade ago and someone stole his phone. The telco and police just didn't care.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money talks.

    Money can solve almost any problem, or so most Americans think.

    AND!!!!!! America is the very best democracy money can buy, so don't be surprised about anything that happens there.

    Anyone & anything can be bought easily in America for the right price.

  5. Mike Wilson

    Corporate profits sequences

    "Corporate profits cannot be allowed to guide decisions that have life-or-death consequences," Gascón said.

    OMG, he must be a communist. Does he not understand the slightest thing about business?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    as usual

    "The CTIA, formerly the Wireless Association, which represents the carriers, said that it was working with police to set up a database of stolen phones that can't be reactivated within the US"

    so they can be sold on to our African and Asian handset suppliers to be used there instead, further expanding our handset userbase with sims used abroad

  7. Christoph

    "But it doesn't believe a software kill switch is the way to go."

    "We will use any anti-theft measures at all, as long as they don't work" ?

  8. Scroticus Canis

    The Governments Don't Care Either.

    The phone service providers don't care because they get a new customer with every stolen phone on their network as well as the insurance rip.

    The government doesn't care because they get VAT or some other tax profit from every replacement phone for the stolen sets.

    The police don't care because there is no fixed penalty fine that they get a share of.

    The only people who do care are the poor kids who got mugged for their phone and their parents.

    Sad old world.

  9. Panicnow

    UK Cell Cos got caught misleading the minister on this years ago

    I was at a meeting of children's charities and Cell Cos at the UK Telecoms ministry. The Cell CO's said to the minister they couldn't kill mobiles. I was there and pointed out that every mobile broadcasts the IMEI every time it moved cell, and that it would be a trivial task to kill mobiles on IEN.

    The minister was SO angry that the senior Cell CO execs were prepared to lie when children were being mugged, that he made the Cell Cos do this is a few weeks, rather than the usual prevarication

  10. Ramazan


    operators also opposed/oppose demands to implement EIRs (databases of stolen IMEIs) on the same grounds

  11. Tom 13


    You want every telco in the world, plus all their police departments, plus the CIA, NSA, etc., etc. to have access to a huge database that turns off phones?

    Like that won't attract some hacker's undivided attention.

  12. BristolBachelor Gold badge

    Note 3

    The Note 3 has an option that even if reset "completely" to manufacturer defaults, it won't work unless logged in to the original Samsung account. No idea if it works if someone just flashes it with cyanogenmod though.

  13. Simon B

    Hi mr Telco, my phone has been stolen ... there's a £1000 bill racked up? well that's your fecking problem. I tried to protrect myself the consumer but you money grabbing bstards prevent us from installing anti-theft remote "kill switch" software So YOU can pay the damn bill. If yuo wont let a consumer protect himself from theft then YOU can deal with the fecking consequences! Money grabbing twats.

  14. wd400

    There's no direct operator action needed for a real killswitch

    There's no direct operator action needed for a real killswitch. All that's needed is for the phone to receive a killswitch signal. It can be in the form of a big public/private key unique for each device.

    The killswitch itself can simply be an application (possibly embedded in the firmware) that whipes the SDcard and other memory then disables CPU thermal protection and overclocks the CPU to fry it.

    With a little additional hardware upgrade (an oscillator, counter that would generate pseudo random addresses and a few transistors), that when activated would burn a fuse to disable its deactivation, apply high tension to the CPU to burn it and wipe the sdcard and any other ram on the device.

    I can see no need for remote access/spyware capability that can get misused, especially in the view of latest NSA scandal.

    I can also see the necessity of providing open source firmware and drivers for all network connectable devices, where such technology can be removed, not merely disabled by the legitimate owner.

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