Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Smartphone Kill-Switch Could Save Consumers $2.6 Billion

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

The Almighty Buck 218

itwbennett (1594911) writes "Creighton University professor William Duckworth has released a report finding that kill-switch technology that remotely makes a stolen smartphone useless could save American consumers up to $2.6 billion per year — mostly from reduced insurance premiums. Duckworth estimated that Americans currently spend around $580 million replacing stolen phones each year and $4.8 billion paying for handset insurance. If a kill-switch led to a sharp reduction in theft of phones, most of the $580 million spent on replacing stolen phones would be saved. And a further $2 billion in savings could be realized by switching to cheaper insurance plans that don't cover theft."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Anyone that replies (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621295)

'Fuck Beta' to this will be modded up by me.

Re:Anyone that replies (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621887)

Fuck Beta

Go to hell (5, Interesting)

tom229 (1640685) | about 8 months ago | (#46621315)

Remote wiping is already possible. What they want is centralized control over the functionality for governing purposes. We're not idiots. Well... not all of us.

Re:Go to hell (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 8 months ago | (#46621413)

I would like a switch to kill the person who steals the phone. i support this kill switch idea. explosive charge through the ear?

Re:Go to hell (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 8 months ago | (#46621639)

Lets get reasonable.
It will overheat and catch fire. Often burning down the residence of the crook, or the poor sap that he sold it too.

Now as a victim of a theft you feel love this feature.
However in terms of justice it is much too extreme. Loss of a few hundreds of dollars, doesn't justify endangering the lives of people, or damaging property that costs exponentially more.

This is why our justice system when it is working, doesn't try to fully compensate the victim. As the hurt party they will demand more then what is fair.

Having the device become unusable so the thief cannot resell it is a good plan, because it will take the urge to steal it down.

Re:Go to hell (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 8 months ago | (#46621777)

Sure it is a little extreme, but how fast would phone thefts drop if a handfull of peoples heads explode when they steal a phone?

Re:Go to hell (1)

mccrew (62494) | about 8 months ago | (#46621991)

Sure it is a little extreme, but how fast would phone thefts drop if a handfull of peoples heads explode when they steal a phone?

Probably about the same as murder rate drops in death-penalty states. Which is to say, not much.

Re:Go to hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46622153)

A fair comparison would require a death penalty that is applied within minutes of the crime. Death penalty states usually take years to reach a sentence, and years more to carry it out.

Lemmings! (2)

gwolf (26339) | about 8 months ago | (#46622003)

You made me immediately think on the poor Lemmings looking at the decreasing counter on the top of their heads, only to grab their heads in distress upon reaching zero... Exploding in a gory feast of blood, leaving their poor mammal corpse for their brethen to remind them of their probable fate.

One of the cruelest games in game history. But, yes, one of the best ones as well.

Re:Go to hell (1)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about 8 months ago | (#46622015)

Error: 25367. Watchdog timer failed. This phone will now self destruct.

You're the legit owner and now your head has assploded. Welcome to the weird world of embedded systems, where the not every combination of failure can always be accounted for. I get the sentiment you have, but I'd never buy such a device.

Re:Go to hell (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 8 months ago | (#46622021)

>>"This is why our justice system when it is working, doesn't try to fully compensate the victim. As the hurt party they will demand more then what is fair."

What is fair? The penalty must be higher than the amount stolen. Otherwise, what is the deterent? A thief could just hold on to the loot for a while until it is clear that he/she got away with it. If caught, just return it and try again another day. Of course in the real 'justice' system the penalty to the thief is not just making a payment to the victim. There is jail time. So.. instead of the thief being punshed by being forced to overcompensate the victim all of society is punished by being forced to house, feed and guard the thief. (or at least pay those who do). Meanwhile the thief is producing nothing of value (stuck in a room) from which the victim or society in general could benefit.

yup, justice is served!

Re:Go to hell (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621439)

Problem reaction solution... create the problem, wait for the reaction from the public demanding something be done about it, implement draconian agenda that the public would otherwise have opposed if it had been proposed without the problem stage. Cell phones and smart phones are just over glorified tracking devices. They happen to have some pragmatic uses and they're really convenient, but they're also really convenient for the new fascist surveillance state that has emerged.

Re:Go to hell (2)

imrahilj (3553503) | about 8 months ago | (#46621465)

Well said. Apparently, the price of freedom (where smartphones are concerned) is only 2.6 billion dollars. That's a lot cheaper than the TSA, Homeland Security, or the wars we are waging right now.

North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia all disagree (4, Insightful)

PackMan97 (244419) | about 8 months ago | (#46621477)

They think a centralized kill switch would be a FANTASTIC idea! Just brick the phones for anyone who dares challenge the state.

I can really see how this might be useful in the US. Instead of the IRS investigating tea partiers, we could just selectively brick their phones. Or if you swing the other way, disable those iPhones from all those annoying hispter Occupy protesters. Seriously, you have an iPhone and you complain about the 99%? You are the 1% globally.

Re:North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia all disagree (2, Insightful)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 8 months ago | (#46621665)

Of course that fear doesn't apply in the U.S. No one but the deeply paranoid wingnuts and the foolish cult of Greenwald dudebros are afraid of the "state" turning off their phone.

The IRS didn't just investigate the teabaggers, they investigated political groups on the right and the left, it was just the mentally-ill right-wingers with their persecution complexes (we're not persecuting them, we're making fun of them and their superstitious, backward, bigoted beliefs) that went nuts over it.

Re:North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia all disagree (1, Interesting)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#46622075)

Of course that fear doesn't apply in the U.S. No one but the deeply paranoid wingnuts and the foolish cult of Greenwald dudebros are afraid of the "state" turning off their phone.

The IRS didn't just investigate the teabaggers, they investigated political groups on the right and the left, it was just the mentally-ill right-wingers with their persecution complexes (we're not persecuting them, we're making fun of them and their superstitious, backward, bigoted beliefs) that went nuts over it.

Well, that and the fact that the IRS did fast track the application for Obama's brother, [washingtonpost.com] who ran an illegitimate "charity" out of Kenya.

Gotta learn to read between the lines.

Re:North Korea, Syria, Iran, Russia all disagree (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621683)

You were doing so well and then... "Seriously, you have an iPhone and you complain about the 99%? You are the 1% globally."

  That's like saying : what ! you are happy ? how dare you someone is way happier than you looser ! Just because someone is worse off than you doesn't mean you are well off. And it doesn't mean either that the US society is any more "fair" than the world globally, just insanely richer.

  Inequality is inequality is inequality. Fighting against one is fighting against all, else you're not fighting against inequality your fighting for yourself.

  The neo-liberal economic system that we have makes inequalities, maybe you think that is good, but don't try to make us believe it isn't true.

Re:Go to hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621553)

Remote wiping is already possible. What they want is centralized control over the functionality for governing purposes. We're not idiots. Well... not all of us.

In what scenario do you think this will harm you? And can you explain how you weigh that against the positives of less robberies (which hurt financially and emotionally)?

Re:Go to hell (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621601)

Remote wiping is already possible.

I don't want to comment on good idea/bad idea, but remote wiping doesn't address the same problem that the kill switch obstinately addresses. Currently people steal phones then resell them so others can use them. They don't care about what data is on them. You remote wipe them? It is still usable, so they can still sell them.

Re:Go to hell (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621695)

Remote wiping is already possible.

I don't want to comment on good idea/bad idea, but remote wiping doesn't address the same problem that the kill switch obstinately addresses. Currently people steal phones then resell them so others can use them. They don't care about what data is on them. You remote wipe them? It is still usable, so they can still sell them.

Do you know what happens after an iPhone has been remote wiped? I have tried that on my iPhone when I have it with me, and the first thing the phone asked for after starting up is the password to the iCloud account that used to remote wipe the phone. Kind of hard to use for anyone who bought a stolen remote-wiped iPhone.

Re:Go to hell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621607)

We're also not all paranoid like you are, though many slashdotters are obviously as lost as you are.

Re:Go to hell (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 8 months ago | (#46621735)

Remote wiping is already possible.

Remote wiping protects your data. It doesn't destroy the value of the stolen phone. This would prevent the phone from being ever reused with a new SIM card, eliminating the market for stolen phones for anything other than scrap parts, and probably drastically reducing theft.

Re:Go to hell (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 8 months ago | (#46621911)

Remote wiping is already possible. What they want is centralized control over the functionality for governing purposes. We're not idiots. Well... not all of us.

Possible, but doesn't' prevent resale. And the same ability to remote wipe can be used to remote kill like how Apple does it.

Someone steals your cellphone, you remote wipe. However ,that someone has a wiped cellphone they can fence to someone for a hundred bucks, still, while you're out the cost of a replacement.

On iOS, you remote wipe, that device is useless. You can fence it for parts, and I'm sure iFixit and others will gladly accept it, but they don't pay too much for non-functional hardware.

Effectively, it's completely useless to steal a cellphone because it can't be used - you can't even use it as an iPod Touch or anything that just merely lacks cellular functionality (say with IMEI blocks). Pretty much the value of an iPhone or iPad or iPod Touch (with iOS7) is $0. Because once wiped, they're nothing more than a pretty piece of aluminum-wrapped glass.

Any idiot who buys a stolen iOS device will find out shortly that they got scammed.

And even Apple refuses to help you until you can convince a court to force them to unlock it.

Right now, steal someone's Galaxy S4 or Nexus 5, and you have a nifty Android phone that still works. Sure the user's data is gone, but you picked it up for $100 off contract. Which makes them still lucrative to thieves who can make an easy $100 off it.

Re:Go to hell (4, Interesting)

Kenshin (43036) | about 8 months ago | (#46622001)

This goes a bit further than remote wiping.

It's already somewhat available with iOS devices, and is completely under the user's control. Basically, without your AppleID and password, the phone cannot be wiped and reactivated by a thief, essentially making it a fancy paperweight. (So it's not really a "kill switch", just a really strong theft deterrent.) The owner can wipe it themselves remotely, for security, but it would still *also* require their AppleID and password inputted directly into the device to reactivate it.

It's been working since September, and no one's found a way to bypass it. (Yet.)

Re:Go to hell (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 8 months ago | (#46622107)

But the idiots who don't remotely wipe their phone increase the insurance costs to everyone, leading us back to the costs.

Furthermore, I'm not sure that handing them a kill-switch is ceding a whole lot of ground. If the government wants to track your cell phone, they already do. If they want to shut down your cell phone, I'm pretty sure they can just tell AT&T or verizon to turn it off, they'd save maybe a few hours. If they want to shut down all cell phones in an area, say one where there's a protest, I'm sure they'd have no problems shutting down the cell phone towers.

If we were talking about something the government couldn't already do, then $26 billion saved would be not worth considering to me, but they already can.

That said, I'm skeptical consumers would be $26 billion richer. I think a more sure way of making consumers richer would be to break up some telecoms, and then we wouldn't be giving the government more power.

Re:Go to hell (1)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 8 months ago | (#46622161)

Remote wiping is already possible. What they want is centralized control over the functionality for governing purposes. We're not idiots. Well... not all of us.

Oh, the theft rate is still high! The kill switch does nothing! No worries citizen, now that the capability is in place, instead of a black list we will institute a white list, whereby you must authenticate the phone periodically with approved government services in order for it to function. What's that you say? Carriers already have to authenticate devices? Ah, but that doesn't render the CPU inoperable, eh? You know, just like Intel demonstrated. Oh, we should get PCs on board with this "anti-theft" as they call it. Oh, and cars too! We just got mandatory black boxes in there.

Why this could save us so much money! It's not like the pentagon is actively trying to figure out how to do any such nefarious thing. It's not like selectively killing Internet access wouldn't be a great tool keep others happy while they silence dissent. [theguardian.com] You know, like they always fucking do? [wikipedia.org]

Even if we were complete idiots, we'd still know that recent history exists: The last year at the least.

No thanks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621345)

Unless I'm the only one that can activate the kill switch in my phone, which is technically impossible.
Also the kill switch is meaningless unless it totally destroys the phone, since otherwise it will be circumvented by criminals and even if it should prove totally impossible to work around (which is impossible) there will always be a black market for spare parts.
The only thing this will do is open up an avenue to mess with other peoples phones by killing them.

Re:No thanks (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#46621437)

Unless I'm the only one that can activate the kill switch in my phone, which is technically impossible.

Why?

You could have a secret number on a scratch card that needs to be transmitted to the phone for it to "suicide".

Re:No thanks (1)

loshwomp (468955) | about 8 months ago | (#46621511)

You could have a secret number on a scratch card that needs to be transmitted to the phone for it to "suicide".

If the premise is that I can't even avoid losing my phone, how am I, as its sole curator, expected to keep track of this number?

Safe deposit box (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#46621621)

You can't keep a phone in a safe deposit box and use it. But you can keep the phone's IMEI disable codes in a safe deposit box.

Re:Safe deposit box (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 8 months ago | (#46622067)

So, this is really a scheme to sell safety deposit boxes.

Re:No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621629)

How would those codes be generated?
How would they be imprinted on the phone?
You really expect that stuff like this can be kept secret when there are billions for criminals to be made?

Just take a look at how "well" this approach has worked for the automotive industry with immobilizers and remotes.
Criminals are running around with little black boxes unlocking cars and driving away in seconds.
This would be a golden opportunity for ransomware makers, "gief cash or we kill phone".

Re:No thanks (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621761)

Because those secure methods, like RSA fobs, haven't been accessible to other parties.

Oh wait...

It won't work! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#46621347)

In before all the people who say this will never work because:
a) Hackers
b) Government
c) Capitalists who *want* to sell you new phones/insurance.

Re:It won't work! (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 8 months ago | (#46621841)

Well, the "saving Americans $2.6 billion" part is unlikely to work, in any case - it'll just go towards increased profits for the insurance companies.

Re:It won't work! (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 8 months ago | (#46622123)

Well, the "saving Americans $2.6 billion" part is unlikely to work, in any case - it'll just go towards increased profits for the insurance companies.

Exactly.

When's the last time some rent-seeker has ever dropped the price of something?

To that end, I remember a time, prior to 2007, when you could buy stuff without paying a "fuel surcharge."

expect carriers to drag their feet. (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#46621349)

A stolen phone is an opportunity to sell a replacement - and maybe persuade someone to upgrade and go onto a new contract. The stolen phones are usually sold abroad or to people who would not buy an expensive phone otherwise, so its not much of a loss - they might even use more data!

Re:expect carriers to drag their feet. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | about 8 months ago | (#46621543)

A stolen phone is an opportunity to sell a replacement - and maybe persuade someone to upgrade and go onto a new contract.

In what way will remotely destroying the phone remove this revenue stream?

At one time it was said that carriers were just as happy to sell services to the person with the stolen phone, however, as you say they are mostly sold abroad these days, which in the vast majority of cases will be a different carrier anyway.

Re:expect carriers to drag their feet. (3, Informative)

Chrisq (894406) | about 8 months ago | (#46621567)

A stolen phone is an opportunity to sell a replacement - and maybe persuade someone to upgrade and go onto a new contract.

In what way will remotely destroying the phone remove this revenue stream?

By discouraging theft .... which is the whole point of the kill switch.

consumers benefits? LOL! (2)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about 8 months ago | (#46621353)

since when do our corporate overlords ever do anything that really saves the consumer money?

a study needs to come out how such a technology will save the corporations billions...then perhaps a change will be made.

Sure (4, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | about 8 months ago | (#46621355)

There are two ways such a kill-switch could go:

1.) It can be circumvented with sufficient effort and hardware access. Then it is useless as a theft deterrent.
2.) It cannot be circumvented. Then it renders the handset vulnerable to the malice or incompetence of whoever controls the killswitch, and thus useless.

Re:Sure (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 8 months ago | (#46621583)

People with skill, time and hardware access tend not to be able to hold down a job. The fact that it's not 100% effective does not make it useless.

Re:Sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621589)

Moats? Option #1
Barbed wire? Option #1
Mechanical locks? Option #1
Private key encryption? Option #1
Heath death of the universe? Hypothetically, option #2

I'm not sure a kill-switch is a good idea, but thats not because of a binary premise that states uselessness in both cases.

Re:Sure (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621591)

There are two ways such a kill-switch could go:

1.) It can be circumvented with sufficient effort and hardware access. Then it is useless as a theft deterrent. 2.) It cannot be circumvented. Then it renders the handset vulnerable to the malice or incompetence of whoever controls the killswitch, and thus useless.

Where I don't disagree with your views for on-phone based "kill switch" software, there is another option which might have at least SOME positive affect without all the issues you see.

I personally would propose a global "bad ESN" list that all carriers world wide are required to check before provisioning a new phone into their network. I realize that foreign carriers cannot be forced by the USA to comply by law, but you might get them to comply by forbidding the carrying of their roaming customers in the USA unless they do. This global bad ESN registry would contain handsets which are reported stolen by their owners though their carriers.

I know this doesn't do anything to protect your data, but users can do that themselves by installing their own custom software. I also realize that it doesn't dry up the secondhand parts market, but it will make the major parts of a handset totally useless unless somebody can change it's ESN. So, at the very least, it will reduce the street value of stolen handsets, and might stem the tide of stolen phones showing up on other carriers' networks.

Fence as iPod (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#46621655)

I personally would propose a global "bad ESN" list that all carriers world wide are required to check before provisioning a new phone into their network.

All a thief really has to do is disable the iPhone's cellular radio and fence it as if it were an iPod touch, or disable a Galaxy S series phone's cellular radio and fence it as if it were a Galaxy Player.

Great in Demonstrations! (4, Insightful)

Andreas . (2995185) | about 8 months ago | (#46621361)

Instead of sending everyone in a defined area a "registration" Message, you can simply kill all phones of the protesters. That way there will be almost no footage of police violence and such! Let's not forget that the batteries of police cameras are always empty when it comes to such point.

Kill switch doesn't protect all phone parts (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621377)

People never bring this up, but any phone kill switch only reduces the value of phones, but they are still worth stealing. I'm an iPhone guy and when I upgrade I sell my old stuff on eBay, and from looking at (recent) prices, iPhones and iPads that are "iCloud Locked" still sell for over $200 as "non-working, for parts". The main board on the phones is useless, but every other part is still almost new and worth quite a bit to fixed damaeged phones.

Re:Kill switch doesn't protect all phone parts (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#46621485)

iPhone is only a tiny percentage of the market. Not every phone needs upgrading every year and not all of them are locked to a "cloud".

Re:Kill switch doesn't protect all phone parts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621979)

My point wasn't that Apple has already solved the issue, and I shouldn't have mentioned Apple, I guess. My point was that for PHONE-X that is "locked" or "blacklisted", it still has parts that are worth around 1/2 the cost of buying a new phone (just my personal findings from ebay). People will still steal a protected PHONE-X that retails for $500, because they can sell the non-locked or identifiable parts for $250. If it's an older phone that can be purchased used for $100, a stolen one will be worth $50 for parts. Brand and age of the phone don't matter, and my main point stands - parts are valuable, and people steal valuable things.

Markup (4, Insightful)

WPIDalamar (122110) | about 8 months ago | (#46621381)

>> $580 million replacing stolen phones each year and $4.8 billion paying for handset insurance.

Whoa whoa whoa... If every person got insurance, that's over an 8x markup for insurance. Since many don't, it's even a higher markup.

Here's an easy way to save $4.3B - Stop buying the insurance.

Re:Markup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621503)

While I agree that people should not pay for insurance on a phone - you still can't look at those numbers the way you did. Most insurance claims are not for theft - they are for damage. Cracked screens, water damage, etc. So in order to say that is an 8x markup, you'd need to include the amount for damage claims. In other words 580 million (theft) + x (damage / loss claims) and then divide the 4.8 billion by it. Hint: It won't be 8x...

Re:Markup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621731)

This was my reaction.

Then I tought: Maybe the author thinks insurance companies are not "Americans".
If that is the case, I still think way too many people buy theft insurance. If you can buy a new phone with either your emergency savings or your montly paycheck, insurance is probably a bad investment.

Re:Markup (2)

hendrips (2722525) | about 8 months ago | (#46621837)

It says that the phone owners themselves spend $580 million - it does not say how much Asurion (by far the largest handset insurer in the U.S.) pays. Asurion's website says they handle 30 million claims per year, though they don't say how many dollars they pay out, to give you an idea of the scale. Of course, you are still correct that the insurance is "overpriced" in the sense that the expected present value of the premiums is greater than the expected payment on claims; that's true of any insurance policy, which is why you shouldn't buy insurance for things you can pay for out of pocket. But I would guess, based on what I know about similar industries, that the markup more in the neighborhood of 30% + 10% kickback to the carrier, not 8x.

Re:Markup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46622091)

Extended warranty.... License to steal, always has been, always will be. DON'T buy them *ever*...

Extended warranties and handset "insurance" is one of the worst ways to spend money needlessly. They always manage to take in more revenue than they pay out in claims, by a LONG shot. These things are never a good deal for the consumer and I cannot imagine a case where it makes sense to buy these extended warranties or insurance.

Electronics retailers, Wireless Carriers, and Auto Dealers will all spend a lot of their sales pitch time talking about these things. They do so because it generates a LOT of profit. I don't begrudge them their effort, if somebody wants to buy insurance or extended warranties so be it. But personally I am down right offended when they start into their "It's the smart thing to do" sales pitches. I've been known to just say "You know what? I've decided not to buy this from you today because I've already said no to the extended warranty already." I did this to a car dealer once when the finance officer pressed the issue. You should have seen the scramble between the salesman, finance guy and the manager of the dealership as I walked out.

Just say no and put the money into your savings account. In the long run, you will win.

Re:Markup (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 8 months ago | (#46622219)

Insurance covers more than just stolen phones. It covers non-warranty repairs and replacements, such as from water damage, abuse, etc. When I worked for Nokia, we repeatedly got calls about being pushed into the pool, dropped in the toilet, washed in pants, baby drooled on it, we even had one phone damaged by water because the owner charged it in the bathroom while taking a hot shower causing condensation. They all wanted warranty repair for things not covered by the waranty. Stolen phones are only a small part of the payout numbers for phone insurance.

Governments really like Kill-Switches too (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621385)

Yeah, I think we should bake this in to all phones so that big brother can kill your phone whenever he wants to. It'll be really useful for making any anti-government protests hard to coordinate.

Premiums going down? ha ha (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621391)

Bull Poo.
If insurance claims go down, the insurance companies will pocket the extra cash.

Re:Premiums going down? ha ha (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#46621535)

Only if insurance isn't a competitive market.

Which it is.

Very exclusive, such promotion, wow (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#46621681)

The retailer that sells the phone to the end user typically has a deal to promote one insurer. I don't see how insurance is so competitive when that insurer has such a promoting advantage.

Re:Very exclusive, such promotion, wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46622193)

How true!

I asked a Radio Shack guy once why he pressed so hard on the extended warranty thing. He told me that they get 10% of all extended warranty sales directly on their paychecks as a bonus. Don't know if that is true, but it makes sense of the behavior I've seen.

Everybody involved in selling and marketing these insurance/extended warranty plans has a vested interest in selling as many of them as possible. They all are driven by profit and everybody is making money. If we remove some of their risk, you can bet they will just arrange to pocket more profit.

only one problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621403)

It won't be only your killswitch.

China, Saudi Arabia, lots of governments want this tech too. But not to help you.

The RIAA wants this tech too. But not to help you.

But go ahead, give up more and more and more control over your electronics, and see what happens in the end.

If I could have a killswitch for my phone that nobody but me could use, because I made the only key and never gave it away then I'll love to have one for my next Android device. Until then? No thanks. And you can bet your arse that generating the key and keeping it to myself won't be an option.

Re:only one problem (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 8 months ago | (#46621525)

Because....NONE of that could be done at the telephone exchange, right?

PS: Why would a government want to brick your phone? It's more valuable to them if you keep on using it and they can listen in.

Re:only one problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621645)

the RIAA absolutely wants this to help you! just like they still claim the DMCA protects consumers and how DRM is for the good of the customer. just try to find anything put out by the RIAA that says otherwise...

party of the rich (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621415)

http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Party-of-the-rich-In-Congress-it-s-the-Democrats-5363121.php

"WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are the party of the rich, right? It's a label that has stuck for decades, and you're hearing it again as Democrats complain about GOP opposition to raising the minimum wage and extending unemployment benefits.

But in Congress, the wealthiest among us are more likely to be represented by a Democrat than a Republican. Of the 10 richest House districts, only two have Republican congressmen. Democrats claim the top six, sprinkled along the East and West coasts. Most are in overwhelmingly Democratic states like New York and California.

The richest: New York's 12th Congressional District, which includes Manhattan's Upper East Side, as well as parts of Queens and Brooklyn. Democrat Carolyn Maloney is in her 11th term representing the district.

Per capita income in Maloney's district is $75,479. That's more than $75,000 a year for every man, woman and child. The next highest income district, which runs along the southern California coast, comes in at $61,273. Democrat Henry Waxman is in his 20th term representing the Los Angeles-area district.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district comes in at No. 8.

Across the country, Democratic House districts have an average per capita income of $27,893. That's about $1,000 higher than the average income in Republican districts. The difference is relatively small because Democrats also represent a lot of poor districts, putting the average in the middle.

Democrats say the "party of the rich" label is more about policies than constituents."

doesn't add up (2)

ljw1004 (764174) | about 8 months ago | (#46621417)

This doesn't add up...

If the carriers currently take in $2bn in theft premiums but only pay out $0.5bn in payouts, then they're pocketing a huge $1.5bn/year difference. Therefore

(1) We can expect them to lobby strongly against anything that will reduce this free money, and attempt to water down any proposed legislation

(2) If the legislation goes through we can expect them to try to gain that money in different ways, maybe with a "remote wipe services fee"...

I can save Americans $4.3B/year (3, Insightful)

loshwomp (468955) | about 8 months ago | (#46621423)

Americans currently spend around $580 million replacing stolen phones each year and $4.8 billion paying for handset insurance.

At that factor of 8, folks, is why insurance is a bad investment. Americans could save $4.3B per year by not buying insurance with a poor ROI.

Re:I can save Americans $4.3B/year (1)

Capslock118 (936446) | about 8 months ago | (#46621463)

I don't completely understand this because I never bought insurance for a phone. Is this saying that even though some people buy phone insurance, those same people still have to pay out of pocket to replace the phone? What is the insurance doing for added-value?

Re:I can save Americans $4.3B/year (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621599)

There's not enough information here to compute the ROI. Maybe 89% of people choose to buy insurance and the ROI is 1.

Re:I can save Americans $4.3B/year (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621605)

Walking around with an uninsured $600 phone is suicidal. You'd have to be completely INSANE to not insure a brand new best-of-breed Android phone like the Galaxy Note 3 or Galaxy S5.

Smart people, however, drop their insurance the moment they can buy a used phone of the same model to replace it on eBay for slightly more than what their deductible would be anyway, and ESPECIALLY drop their insurance when loss would almost certainly mean replacement with a newer model instead of the same model as the old one.

Re:I can save Americans $4.3B/year (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 8 months ago | (#46622287)

Insurance covers and pays out for more than just stolen phones. It is like saying "people spend around $500 million to replace cars from damaged in car fires and pay $50 billion in car insurance".

Beliefs (2)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about 8 months ago | (#46621431)

The annoying facet of this topic is the repetitious use of belief rather than actual data on whether this even works. Surely this regulation exists somewhere. I neither have, nor want, a phone.so I have no horse in this race. Ask yourself how many phones are going to be remote wiped and/or killed by silly users who "think" they have "lost" or had their phone stolen. Be interesting to see which groups are pushing, and who financing, this service. Cynical much? Why yes.

Don't you mean the Police Switch? (1)

BrendaEM (871664) | about 8 months ago | (#46621433)

This is not the answer! Cellphone carriers should not register stolen phones.

Soon, each citizen should wear at all times a helmet with an attached remote controlled pistol. Lol!

i declare shenanigans (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621435)

why would cell phone companies want to sacrifice $2.6 billion in income?

Money Says it Won't Happen (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621445)

So long as the insurance companies are making, according to this study, $4.2 billion (minus whatever they pay out for damaged devices which certainly isn't anywhere close to $4.2 billion...), this kill switch will never happen.

Almost everyone in the chain from manufacturers to carriers to insurance companies make money from device theft so there's currently little incentive for a kill switch. There are some companies who buck the trend and protect their users from device theft but, for the majority, the money is simply too enticing for it to become an important issue worth tackling.

When there's a financial incentive to not act, expect inaction.

Nobody buys smartphone insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621449)

And you're an idiot if you do.

Smartphone kill switch could cost citizens freedom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621457)

We're not consumers. We're citizens. And we don't want your fascist kill switch.

Intentional (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621519)

If I lost my phone I cannot get them to tell me where it's at. Even if I have my account number, social, billing card number, etc (whatever).

No amount of that will prove to them that I am the owner and should be told where the phone is....

But if I call the cops and say that my daughter was kidnapped and the person took my phone. BLAM. The phone is at X. Guy = busted.

My phone's location can only be used to hurt me.... not help. I still have to explain to tow truck drivers where I am. I still cannot get any help with finding my lost phone....

But If I abduct a few kids or steal something shiny.... it will be used to catch me.

Kinda like how computerization of records only helps them share more dirt on you.... but they aren't about to use those resources to help YOU when you need some records sent to your new doctor. No that takes weeks and a million signatures....

Re:Intentional (1)

MikeMo (521697) | about 8 months ago | (#46622145)

Get an iPhone. Use "Find My iPhone" free feature. Demand that other phone makers provide that, too, if they don't already.

The last time I had phone replacement insurance (2)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 8 months ago | (#46621527)

The last time I had phone replacement insurance, I was paying almost $8 a month for it (I think that was with Verizon). I think I've used phone insurance one time in the 12+ years I've spent owning a cell phone. It seems absolutely useless for someone like me who puts the phone in a front pocket and actually takes care not to drop it or put it where it will end up in a toilet or sink or coffee cup or pool.

Combine dropping the handset insurance with the 50%+ savings that are had by dumping the contract carrier and moving to a "prepaid" carrier and you've got enough saved cash after four months (at ~$48/mo saved) to PURCHASE A TOTALLY NEW PHONE. Not a cheap crappy one either: I remember Virgin Mobile had Samsung Galaxy S2 phones for $200 and Galaxy S3 phones for $300 at one point, both of which are really nice phones.

As for kill switches...meh, just use the Android 4.x full device encryption.

Problem with Boost, Virgin, and Ting (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 months ago | (#46621741)

Combine dropping the handset insurance with the 50%+ savings that are had by dumping the contract carrier and moving to a "prepaid" carrier and you've got enough saved cash after four months (at ~$48/mo saved) to PURCHASE A TOTALLY NEW PHONE. Not a cheap crappy one either: I remember Virgin Mobile had Samsung Galaxy S2 phones

Except isn't Virgin Mobile itself a "cheap crappy one"? Boost, Virgin, and Ting all use Sprint's network. And though I've had satisfactory voice service on Virgin for the past several years, I've read bad things about the quality of Sprint's data network.

Re:Problem with Boost, Virgin, and Ting (1)

Jody Bruchon (3404363) | about 8 months ago | (#46621849)

I think it's highly dependent on where you are and how the coverage is there. The only places I have problems with Virgin, I have had problems with almost everything else except maybe Verizon. I don't know that paying double the cost per month is worth having coverage in fringe areas, especially since I'm in an office 90% of the day, but for highly mobile people it may be worth it. Also, I never use voice service, but frequently use data service; no serious problems to report. Then again, these anecdotes only help if you live where the person is that's talking about it, so...

When I had T-Mobile, that was really freaking bad everywhere and my only saving grace was eventually getting a phone of theirs with the "Wi-Fi Calling" feature. GSM is really just pure shit.

Re:The last time I had phone replacement insurance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621859)

As for kill switches...meh, just use the Android 4.x full device encryption.

The point is that it would only work if thieves knew that all phones were not reusable. Kind of like herd immunity with vaccinations.

Handset insurance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621533)

"Americans currently spend around ... $4.8 billion paying for handset insurance."

That seems alarmingly high.

GREAT ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621609)

So at the mere cost of sacrificing all control over our ($700) mobile device and handling a remote kill-switch power to somebody (but who exactly ? the police ? a private corp ? my carrier luuulz), probably giving a freaking boner to Staline, we could save almost $3 billions ? that's like $10 per person ! freedom is so cheap zomg !

  Best deal since that loss of privacy for free (constant) advertising Facebook tried to sell me some years ago.

  Please die. Painfully.

IMEI blacklists already do this. (2)

Jason Pollock (45537) | about 8 months ago | (#46621635)

Databases already exist with stolen IMEIs. This will prevent those devices from registering on a carrier's network, rendering them wifi-only.

Both systems require the owner to report the theft, which you wouldn't do if your phone is >2-3 years old - value is > insurance deductible.

Since the existing systems are already not used, there won't be any change by any new system.

http://www.t-mobile.com/verify... [t-mobile.com]
https://prod.eie.net.au/portal... [eie.net.au]
http://www.imei.info/blacklist... [imei.info]

The response is that thieves change the IMEI number (which can be hard). What is says is that any new system would have the same result - the thieves would change the identification number used to lock out the device.

Re:IMEI blacklists already do this. (1)

Jason Pollock (45537) | about 8 months ago | (#46621643)

Sorry, that should be "value insurance deductible". :)

So, seriously.. (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 8 months ago | (#46621675)

Is anyone falling for this?

Re:So, seriously.. (1)

spacepimp (664856) | about 8 months ago | (#46621743)

Not here. Not too many. However the rest of the world buys right in to the fear. I guarantee the enxt time there is some sort of protest or unrest that we will see phones in an area cut and they'll deny being involved.

Idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621719)

How does having a kill switch suddenly mean I won't have to replace a stolen or lost phone? Is the professor really so stupid as to think cell phone theft would be a thing of the past? There's no insurance savings here. Plus, he didn't factor in the cost of purchasing new phones after they're bricked after being mistaken for stolen only to be found in the couch cushions later.

Why stop on cell phone kill switch (2)

Trachman (3499895) | about 8 months ago | (#46621723)

While the cellphone kill switch is a fascinating and debatable idea, with trepidation I am waiting for the first study for human kill switch devices. We saw those prototypes in the movie The Running Man. They no longer need to be intrusive and look like dog collars. They can be discreet and miniature like cardiac pacemakers. The kill switch needs not be messy and explosive: all you do is switch off the current. Human Kill switches have enormous potential. If widely adopted, billions of dollars could be saved. For all kind of fugitives from justice. For example, Mr Snowden would not be an issue, nor any stolen information in his laptop or his head. You no longer go the hard way through extradition, all you do is let the authorization not to explode unlast. Application opportunities are just... boundless: kill switches can be customized to have automatic Taser installed, for example. Or, another thought: there would be no need to have vehicle kill switches, because it would be possible to control the driver who is controlling vehicles. Police would have no need to carry handguns anymore, because you could carry remote controllers. We are talking not billions but trillions of dollars in savings here.

Hillarity Ensues (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621737)

A kill-switch is an incredibly stupid idea. If it ever got implemented no doubt mischief would ensue. I would love to see politicians have to deal with them and their staff having their phones bricked daily.

Massive Negativity (2)

Galaga88 (148206) | about 8 months ago | (#46621763)

You know, if humanity in general was as negative and paranoid towards every bit of technological change as the commenters on here trying to find every reason this won't work... We'd have never come out of the damned trees.

My iPhone 5 has a killswitch through the form of iOS 7 and my iCloud account. I like this. If you're so damned determined to believe that this feature will only be used by the government to oppress you, why do you own a smartphone to begin with?

Re:Massive Negativity (4, Insightful)

ichthus (72442) | about 8 months ago | (#46621957)

if humanity in general was as negative and paranoid towards every bit of technological change

There was a time when the idea that the government would capture and store every phone conversation and email of its citizens was paranoid. There was a time, not too long ago, that nobody would ever have believed that we'd have naked body scanners at the airport -- people like you would call anyone claiming this as a possibility "paranoid." Drone surveillance of the masses? Paranoid. Law enforcement roadblocks for obligatory cheek swabs? Paranoid. National database of private medical records available to unelected government entities? Paranoid

Fuck you and your labels -- you and your naivete. If a new technology can be used for control, obviously, it will be.

Re:Massive Negativity (1)

hendrips (2722525) | about 8 months ago | (#46622023)

Because, as it stands now, you control the killswitch on your iPhone, and Apple, your carrier, and the government, don't, at least in theory. Is this a trick question?

Car analogy (1)

h4x0t (1245872) | about 8 months ago | (#46621789)

This just in! Economist reports that kill switches on cars that allow for remote disabling, rendering the car worthless, would save consumers millions, mostly in insurance premiums. (Just give us more power already! -govt.[largecorp, inc])

Re:Car analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46622069)

This just in! Economist reports that kill switches on cars that allow for remote disabling, rendering the car worthless, would save consumers millions, mostly in insurance premiums. (Just give us more power already! -govt.[largecorp, inc])

Wouldn't that be a hacker's paradise and/or on top 10 of "ways to annoy your neighbor". Imagine having a fight regarding the dog next door running around in your garden and after that neither your car or phone works anymore.

I can see the potential in the ideas and they are generally not bad, but the abuse options seems far worse than the benefits from the system. If we don't think safety into all our systems, we will end up with something like a pacemaker controlled by bluetooth.... Too late, we already have those (I think). I wouldn't be surprised if some politician or similar person dies someday because bluetooth signals from a nearby car sets the pagemaker to 300 beats/minute.

Won't save any money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46621935)

Assumes that phone theft crime will stop (it will), but it will just be replaced by other crime. Look beyond the initial effects.

Stolen? Lost? (1)

gwolf (26339) | about 8 months ago | (#46621959)

Oh, come on... I have also lost several items only to find them later, misplaced in the most obvious places. Of course, I have also attributed to theft some of my losses. I guess that I have misplaced my stuff more than once.

So, if thieves were to end up with a useless brick, would people lose less phones?

Do thieves only get phones to resell them (and not, say, take your contacts information, for blackmail and similar stuff?) In my country, there have been countless campaigns telling people not to fall for anybody saying "I have your daughter kidnapped", because they are most usually bluffing (and demanding for expedited money transfers, to which many distressed parents comply without first checking)

I seriously seriously doubt this US$580 million figure would be in any significant way reduced

Selfphone insurance (1)

goarilla (908067) | about 8 months ago | (#46622007)

Why ? This is ridiculous. Why insure a 300 $ device ?

Lock code (2)

MikeMo (521697) | about 8 months ago | (#46622111)

Doesn't the existing Apple passcode with fingerprint solution solve this problem (I think Samsung is doing something like this, too)? It appears to me that the device is useless to anyone except the original owner, since it can't be unlocked, even after a wipe and a re-flash. The fingerprint makes the passcode not a burden to the owner.

Isn't that sufficient?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?