Saturday, February 22, 2014

Dems really want that cellphone kill switch.

 Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., tech guru.

Here's well known cellphone expert and all-round tech guru Senator Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. telling us how awesome an idea it is to  give the US government the power to turn off your cell phone. Oh, and everyone else's cell phone too. At the same time, like.

Mikulski and three Senate colleagues, all Democrats, introduced The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act on Feb. 12, proposing that the technology be mandatory for new smartphones. The senators, led by Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, cited the Federal Communications Commission’s estimate that phone theft costs consumers $30 billion annually.
The bill would give the FCC authority to compel phone companies to develop and implement technology allowing victimized and absent-minded phone owners to disable their devices and clear personal information on request.
Mikulski touted the proposal Thursday at an event in Landover, Md., alongside Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority General Manager Richard Sarles and Metro Police Chief Ron Pavlik. During her speech, she says, AT&T sent a text message hawking insurance for her phone.
A kill switch would be even better than insurance, Mikulski says, because it would deny thieves a payday and thus a motive for robbing people. 

Yeah, the theft of a phone seems like a big enough deal to warrant a law -forcing- the cell phone makers, who are mostly foreign companies incidentally (you know, like Samsung?) to include a "kill switch" so some as-yet un-named federal agency will be able to "turn them off", otherwise known as "bricking" them. Meaning scrambling their EPROM and flash memory.

The alert reader will note that according to the Wiki article linked here, it is quite possible to re-flash a phone that's been bricked. Unless the "turn them off" means physically destroying the CPU or major piece of hardware in the phone, there's still going to be a payday.

But Barbie knows best! Don't question Barbie!

“First of all, if they’re worried about a hacker, they could do that to your cellphone now, a kill switch won’t affect that one way or the other,” she [Mikulski] says. “In terms of your government shutting off your cellphone, I think that’s conspiratorial.”

Its a... conspiracy, Mr. Anderson.
Technically this is true. The FBI has the ability to turn on your cell phone by remote access, and turn on its microphone and its camera as well. Presumably they could turn it off the same way. They can certainly turn it off by calling your cellphone company and telling them to discontinue your service. Calling the FBI "hackers" is a bit of a stretch, but technically true.

As to the conspiracy bit, after I stop laughing I'm going to say one name: Edward Snowden.

A guy who escaped -to- Russia. Jeeze.
What kills me is that some reporterette didn't instantly yell "SNOWDEN!!!" at her. These people say this shit, and they never get called. Ever.

As a Real Man(TM) I object in principle to men striking women, no matter what the provocation. Women striking women, that I'm perfectly ok with.

Wait, you said what to me?

Come on ladies, somebody step up. Its got to be done.

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