Preventing Cell Phone Theft through Benefit Denial
Here we can see how the rise of the surveillance state permeates everything about computer security. On the face of it, this is a good idea. Assuming it works—that 1) it’s not possible for thieves to resurrect phones in order to resell them, and 2) that it’s not possible to turn this system into a denial-of-service attack tool—it would deter crime. The general category of security is “benefit denial,” like ink tags attached to garments in retail stores and car radios that no longer function if removed. But given what we now know, do we trust that the government wouldn’t abuse this system and kill phones for other reasons? Do we trust that media companies won’t kill phones it decided were sharing copyrighted materials? Do we trust that phone companies won’t kill phones from delinquent customers? What might have been a straightforward security system becomes a dangerous tool of control, when you don’t trust those in power.