UK Government Minister Says Gadget Makers Need To Make Their Products Harder To Steal

from the shifting-blame dept

It's not uncommon to see politicians blame gadgets for crimes, such as cameraphones for happy slapping, or white earphones for MP3 player theft, since it's far easier to blame faceless corporations and their products than to actually do something about the underlying crimes that occur. Now, in the UK, a government minister is taking things a step further by saying that gadget makers need to "design in features which reduce crimes". He also suggests that people buying new mobile phones should "ask how does this prevent people actually stealing it and selling it again, what are the anti-crime characteristics?" It's not entirely clear what he's after (apart from some political brownie points), but he cites the way mobile operators in the UK blacklist stolen phones so they can't be used, which means that stolen phones just end up getting sold overseas, not that they don't get stolen. It seems like this is just a way to shift some responsibility away from criminals, but particularly away from the police, and blame device manufacturers for making their products too attractive and too easy to steal. What's he want, anyway -- taser-equipped iPods and mobile phones with pepper spray?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Poster, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 4:49pm

    Politicians should ask themselves about any proposal for a law "how does this prevent people from thinking I'm a complete jackass?"

     

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  2.  
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    DCX2, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 4:50pm

    In a REAL economy...

    ...the market would respond by creating a demand for devices which had these features designed in them already, with no government intervention necessary.

    So, you have to ask...what's causing the market to fail in this case? Are there any regulations, tariffs, taxes, or what have you, which interfere?

    Maybe if they weren't so busy trying to improperly implement lame DRM schemes, there would be more time available to consider design features like security.

    Less tongue in cheek, I believe the market failure is lack of knowledge among consumers. Honest knowledge of this problem and how widespread it is could easily help create the missing demand, were it truly a valid concern.

     

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  3.  
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    samuel, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 5:03pm

    If my MP3 player had an equipped taser...

    I would probably shock myself several times in a matter of minutes. Or if my phone had pepper spray, then my pants would spell horrible.

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 5:19pm

    Re: If my MP3 player had an equipped taser...

    at least no theives would come near you and your smell pants.

     

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  5.  
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    Dan, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 5:23pm

    Repelent devices

    Make the objects ugly, heavy and devoid of features.
    If possible, make the items out of smelly plastic.
    Job done!

     

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  6.  
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    Joe, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 5:39pm

    This is actually a good plan

    My brother lives over in Dublin and in the past, cell phone theft was rampant. The industry did little about it as they were making good money on new phone sales. After legislation to make it easier to blacklist the phones, the theft rate dropped markedly. Yes, you could sell it overseas but that's the same as saying people should have good locks on their doors. if someone wants to break in, they still can but the amount of effort to do so is a deterrent. For the lazy thieves at least. So I'm all for locking stolen ipods out of itunes, having a gps call home device in laptops etc. it won't end things but it will be a step in the right direction.

     

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  7.  
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    patrick, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 5:53pm

    Lame thinking

    Britishers are weired. who agrees/?

     

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  8.  
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    Britishers are wierd, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 6:49pm

    Pepper spray is illegal in the UK

    What's he want, anyway -- taser-equipped iPods and mobile phones with pepper spray?
    Those could actually be useful, except that tasers, pepper spray, and CS/mace are all illegal in the UK.

     

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  9.  
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    Xenohacker@hotmail.com, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 8:14pm

    Doh...

    Homer Simpson put it best when he said, "Doh".

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 8:32pm

    The government minister was later quoted as saying "Money is just too bloody hard to steal, we need to incorporate anti-theft measures into the paper to prevent this problem".

    Seriously, the same problem that exists for a $100 phone exists with a $100 bill, but I don't hear anyone complaining about paper currency.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 30th, 2007 @ 11:08pm

    lol i was just thinking the same thing number 10, but i guess it's becuase those same polititions are stealing the cash out of your pokect and are in compitition with the common thug.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 1st, 2007 @ 2:01am

    Re:

    Seriously, the same problem that exists for a $100 phone exists with a $100 bill, but I don't hear anyone complaining about paper currency.
    You must have missed it. There have been proposals from certain government sectors, particularly law enforcement, to abolish currency and replace it with traceable electronic transaction "cards".

     

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  13.  
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    Geeb, May 1st, 2007 @ 4:34am

    What's he want?

    > What's he want, anyway -- taser-equipped iPods and mobile phones with pepper spray?

    Actually, in a report earlier this year the government suggested that iPods should have fingerprint scanners built in, so that when stolen, they had no value to the thief.

    It's embarrassing to be British some days...

     

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  14.  
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    Charles Griswold, May 1st, 2007 @ 10:31am

    British

    Patrick said: Britishers are weired. who agrees/?

    Geeb said: It's embarrassing to be British some days...

    We have plenty of idiots in office here in the States, too. Politicians can be stupid no matter what country they're from.

     

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  15.  
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    |333173|3|_||3, May 2nd, 2007 @ 2:55am

    Can't mobile phones be not only balcklisted, but permentantly disabled, so tehy ned to have their firmware replaced. Maybe a trick could be with 'phones to have a system for trashing the flash memory by excessively writing to it, no matter what teh person tries to do. Writing a drivers liscence numbr on your iPod can help, b/c then the better second-hand dealers will check that you own it legitiamtely. Possibly, there should be a legal requirement that teh dealer checks that any liscene number matches that on the persons liscencs.

     

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