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?

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Comments on “UK Government Minister Says Gadget Makers Need To Make Their Products Harder To Steal”

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DCX2 says:

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.

Joe says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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”.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

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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