Latest Twist On DRM Of Physical Products: Machines Locked Down By Geolocation

from the and-you-thought-you-owned-it dept

Despite overwhelming evidence that the public hates DRM, companies persist in coming up with new ways to impose it in an effort to control how their products are used. Here's the latest twist, pointed out to us by @dozykraut:

On Practical Machinist, there's a fascinating thread about the manufacturer's lockdown on a high-priced, high-end Mori Seiki NV5000 A/40 CNC [computer numerical control] mill. The person who started the thread owns the machine outright, but has discovered that if he moves it at all, a GPS and gyro sensor package in the machine automatically shuts it down and will not allow it to restart until they receive a manufacturer's unlock code.
As the Boing Boing article quoted above explains, this seems to be a requirement of the US government, and is designed to prevent machines being sent to Iran in violation of the embargo placed on that country. But of course, the ramifications are much wider:
now these machines can't be moved at all without the manufacturer's knowledge and consent, a situation that the manufacturers have turned into a business-opportunity by using the technology to assist in repossessing machines from delinquent lease-payers -- and requiring permission for privilege of deciding where to place their key capital assets.
What's particularly troubling is that the cost of adding GPS capabilities is already low, and will inevitably become lower. That raises the possibility of a wider range of devices being locked down by geolocation -- and of their owners' rights being eroded down even more.

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  • icon
    Christopher Best (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 11:24am

    So, here's an interesting thought: You could use a CNC machine and 3D printer to make CNC machines.

    Sure, they'd start out crude... And you'd have to develop the control software... But it could be done, and improved rapidly via iterative development...

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  • icon
    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 11:48am

    Wat

    As the Boing Boing article quoted above explains, this seems to be a requirement of the US government, and is designed to prevent machines being sent to Iran in violation of the embargo placed on that country.

    I'd have thought GPS was precise enough to distinguish between "moving it across the shop" and "shipping it to Iran."

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:00pm

      Re: Wat

      GPS is precise enough to distinguish, but it's likely just easier to program it so that if any sort of movement is detected it turns off. Or to put it more simply "Have you moved?" is an easier check than "Are you moving enough that you could be on your way to Iran?"

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      • identicon
        SpaceLemur, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:12pm

        Re: Re: Wat

        Although I would think that checking "am I in Iran" would be even easier. Then you don't have to worry about both where it is and where it was. You just have to check where it is against a list.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:18pm

          Re: Re: Re: Wat

          No, "am I in Iran?" would have to check it's current location against a list or a range of values. "Have I moved?" you just need to set a location, and check to see if your current location is different from that one value.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:06pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Wat

            "No, 'am I in Iran?' would have to check it's current location against a list or a range of values."

            It would only need to check against the boundaries on a 2D plane (also known as a map). It's quite a trivial thing to do.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:50pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wat

              Which still isn't as trivial as:

              Set HomeLocation

              Check CurrentLocation
              If CurrentLocation != HomeLocation
              Shut Down

              Why worry about boundaries on a plane if you can just worry about a single point?

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              • icon
                JMT (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:13pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wat

                You're right, but completely missing the point, which is that this method is stupid and unfairly punishes the purchaser. It would be simple, and far better for the manufacturer's supposedly valuable customers, to have the machine freely movable within a set area, which could be a building, city or even country.

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:16pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wat

                Because HomeLocation in your example can not be a single point, as it would result in too many false positives and therefore failures. It needs instead to be an area of a certain size and shape, possibly no more complex than a sphere or rectangle. Logically, it is a trivial matter to turn "if CurrentLocation within HomeLocationRadius then fail" into "if CurrentLocation within ProhibitedCountryRadius then fail".

                You're making it out to be more difficult than it really is in an attempt to win an argument you've already lost.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:17pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wat

                  Make that "if CurrentLocation not within HomeLocationRadius then fail".

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                • identicon
                  Dave, 11 Jan 2014 @ 5:00am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wat

                  Not to mention that even if it were slightly more complicated to check if it were within a restricted country, it's still no where near as complicated as putting in a whole infrastructure to shut down the device, provide the owner with all the call in information , staff and train company personal on how and why to reset the machine, verifying and certifying that your process meets government export and consumer protection regulations ... A couple more lines of code versus staffing and training a department to handle the manual reset process?

                  Anyone worried that a couple lines of code is too complicated is suffering from 'head up the ass' syndrome.

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                  • identicon
                    Clownius, 13 Jan 2014 @ 2:10am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Wat

                    You forgot that the current system allows them to add new countries/places to the list in future without needing to recall all the machines.

                    You never know some country might stop the NSA tapping their comms lines (or another terrible thing in the USAs eyes like piracy/privacy, both are bad m'kay) tomorrow and they will need to be controlled like Iran.

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    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:37pm

      Re: Wat

      Yes and no. GPS is pretty error-prone. You can watch the GPS "drift" on stationary receivers as the EM environment around it changes. Installations that require high precision gain it by installing a GPS receiver nearby at a known, fixed location and using that to produce a correction factor for the other receivers.

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      • icon
        ChurchHatesTucker (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:44pm

        Re: Re: Wat

        And this drift is enough to offset it by, say, the width of the planet?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: Wat

          The GPS and gyros are coordinated to make it more difficult to lie about where the machine is.

          As soon as you move the machine, the gyroscope locks the machine down. You call the mill maker and they send you an unlock code. When you punch that in, the machine must be where you said it is or else it won't unlock.

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    • icon
      limbodog (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:43pm

      Re: Wat

      Yes, but "Well we *have* to install it because terrorism" is a good excuse to include "and no resales, by the way or we lock it down."

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:45pm

      Re: Wat

      That's what the gyro's for.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 4:08pm

      Re: Wat

      Yes, GPS is precise enough. It's also useless if the extremely weak signal from the satellites cannot reach the antenna, which usually happens within buildings.

      It's also easy enough to spoof (see: extremely weak signal). The encoding used by the GPS signal is public, and it's not authenticated.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Jan 2014 @ 12:21pm

      Re: Wat

      at 1 meter accuracy (which is affordable) and a bit of cheap programing by the manufacturer you can't move equipment over the workshop floor.

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    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, 10 Jan 2014 @ 11:58am

    HOLY CRAP! TECHDIRT IS STILL IN THE 20TH CENTURY!

    Alarmed about rare industrial machines as if DON'T APPEAR TO KNOW YOUR FANCY NEW CARS HAVE THAT:
    “We know everyone who breaks the law, we know when you’re doing it,” Farley said, according to a report in Business Insider. “We have GPS in your car, so we know what you’re doing. By the way, we don’t supply that data to anyone.”

    Ford on Thursday denounced those comments.

    “Ford is absolutely committed to protecting our customers’ privacy,” company spokesman Wes Sherwood said. “We do not track our customers. No data is transmitted from the vehicle without the customer’s express consent.”

    Customers give consent when they use a navigation or voice-activated system.

    http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20140109/AUTO0102/301090127/1361/

    WHY THE HELL AREN'T YOU WORRIED ABOUT YOUR CARS?

    HOW THE HELL CAN I TAKE YOU SERIOUSLY WHEN YOU DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE EVERYDAY SURVEILLANCE?

    The phony deal that evil people (and gullible fools) try to force on us: You can't have the benefits of technology unless give up all privacy.

    07:56:58[i-137-4]

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    • icon
      Internet Zen Master (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:20pm

      Re: HOLY CRAP! TECHDIRT IS STILL IN THE 20TH CENTURY!

      I can't read Glyn's mind so I can't speak for him, but here's some food for thought ootb:

      The GPS in those cars is installed to primarily benefit the customer when they want to use things like, oh I don't know, the navigation system? Something that people like to have in order to find their way around?

      Yes, there is definitely a possibility it could be used for "everyday surveillance", maybe even by your favorite scapegoat Google. However, it still requires customers to give consent for the systems to be used.

      The 'GPS and gyro sensor package' in the CNC mill provides absolutely zero benefit to the customer, just like regular DRM. The only one who's better off in this situation is the manufacturer.

      Please stop and digest this before you start ranting again.

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      • icon
        John Fenderson (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:08pm

        Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! TECHDIRT IS STILL IN THE 20TH CENTURY!

        Also, the GPS is cars is really, really easy to disable or remove without rendering the car inoperable.

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      • identicon
        Just Sayin', 11 Jan 2014 @ 9:43pm

        Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! TECHDIRT IS STILL IN THE 20TH CENTURY!

        "The 'GPS and gyro sensor package' in the CNC mill provides absolutely zero benefit to the customer, just like regular DRM. The only one who's better off in this situation is the manufacturer."

        There is actually plenty of benefit for the customer, just not what you might think.

        CNC mills are very delicate, and in order to perform and produce parts to very high tolerances, the machines themselves must be properly installed and maintained. That means even a slight movement (say, dragging it across your shop to the other side) may be enough to cause problems - and thus produce poorer quality parts.

        As a company, if you use the machine and think everything is in tolerance but it is not, the parts you produce may not work properly, may not fit, or in a worst case scenerio may fail in operation and cause injury or death to the end consumer of the parts made with the CNC machine.

        It's obviously to great benefit to the owner of a CNC machine to have it installed propertly and maintained properly, and it's also of great benefit to the company making the CNC machines to be able to prove if the machine was properly installed by their technicians or not if a lawsuit comes down the pipe. There is a whole lot of benefit for everyone involved here.

        Moreover, if you then decide to sell your machine shop to someone else, being sure that the equipment was properly installed would be a plus in the sale price.

        Pushing it as "DRM" is crap, the whole "it moved to Iran" thing is only a sideline in the deal. Assuring that the machines work as intended, and that user of the machine does not inadvertently cause it to produce defective parts is key here, and very critical all the way to the consumer marketplace.

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        • identicon
          Pragmatic, 13 Jan 2014 @ 6:41am

          Re: Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! TECHDIRT IS STILL IN THE 20TH CENTURY!

          All that being true (I'll assume, for the sake of the argument), it should be possible to gently, carefully move the machine without GPS alerting the manufacturer. That's plain creepy. Besides, when updating Adobe software or whatever, I have to input the code that proves I paid for it in order to get the upgrade. I can actually move my PC to any location I want and still be able to use the software I paid for. For now. Don't give them ideas.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 13 Jan 2014 @ 9:03am

          Re: Re: Re: HOLY CRAP! TECHDIRT IS STILL IN THE 20TH CENTURY!

          That means even a slight movement (say, dragging it across your shop to the other side) may be enough to cause problems - and thus produce poorer quality parts.


          Oh, please.

          What would be a benefit to the customer might be a warning message that says that the machine detected movement that is out of spec, and it needs to be serviced.

          Just locking it down is not a benefit for anybody but the manufacturer.

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    • icon
      JMT (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:17pm

      Re: HOLY CRAP! TECHDIRT IS STILL IN THE 20TH CENTURY!

      I know this stuff confuses you greatly, but this topic has nothing at all to do with surveillance or privacy. Try to keep up with the class.

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  • icon
    Internet Zen Master (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 11:59am

    Hm

    Part of me thinks you might be blowing this out of proportion Glyn. I mean, why would anyone install Geolocation measures on physical products unless the products were like CNC mill, and being illegally exported to Iran.

    Then the cynical side of me points out that if they can do it in something huge like a CNC mill, what's stopping companies like Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo from eventually doing something similar when the next round of consoles comes out?
    What if the video game industry decides they really want to enforce the whole "region-lock" thing? Got that new PS5/Xbox4.0 in a country where it's not being released yet/won't ever be released due to whatever stupid regulation?

    Those gaming companies won't even have to worry about you using their product where you're not supposed to, even if you're not hooked up to the net! They'll just use the GPS and gyro sensor package they installed in the machine and turned the expensive console you bought with your own money into a big fat doorstop.

    Yes, it's hyperbolic, but that's where I can see stuff like this headed, depending on how small they're able to make the gyro sensor/GPS package.

    Seriously, who the hell thought Physical DRM was ever a good idea anyway?

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    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:05pm

      Re: Hm

      Imagine taking your Nintendo 4DS (this new handheld console allows you to gather TimeCoins by walking around with the console on, just like the 3DS. You can spend these coins while gaming to see bonehead decisions and screwups you're going to make in the future, therefore you now know how what not to do) from one country to another. You put in the game cart, but the GPS detects where you are and says for a "modest" fee, you can "activate" the cart for "turbocharged INTERNATIONAL!!!!ZOMG! gameplay!"

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:31pm

      Re: Hm

      depending on how small they're able to make the gyro sensor/GPS package.

      Small enough to fit in smartphones today.

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    • identicon
      Absconding abdication, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:46pm

      Re: Hm

      same people who thing region locking DVDs etc is a good idea. Can't sell DVDs in Africa at 20$ a pop but sure can in the US.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:49pm

      Re: Hm

      Region lock!?!? What about when they shut you down because you took your XB0x to a friends house?
      "Oh, you want to have an XBox party? Then you need to subscribe to our Party Package for a nominal fee!"

      It's already bad enough my DVR is useless when I lose the internet connection. Yes, I understand it's to keep me from recording stuff and taking the box to a friends house. But when the cable is out I can't even watch the shows I recorded for when the cable goes out :/

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 3:07pm

        Re: Re: Hm

        Region lock!?!? What about when they shut you down because you took your XB0x to a friends house?

        The implementation on the machine tool is more like you moved it from one side of the TV to the other so you now need to get a new unlock code.

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  • icon
    Arsik Vek (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:04pm

    Out of curiosity, if I shipped this thing to Iran, do we actually believe they wouldn't be able to bypass this "feature"?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:17pm

      Re:

      The law is an excuse, not actually a deterrent. There are better ways of determining if it's in Iran than a GPS receiver planted inside of it.

      It's the same excuse that many other companies use making products that phone home when it comes to "Piracy". This is clearly meant to be enforcement of EULAs across the board. Or to program planned obsolescence into their products (see: every console video game that used multiplayer that was released a decade earlier).

      It's really not surprising that larger machines have adopted this as well, especially considering that CNC machine costs as much as my car (which may also fail in the future once the manufacturer decides that I need to upgrade it).

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:41pm

        Re: Re:

        I think you could buy several cars for the cost of the particular machine under discussion, except possibly something like a Maserati.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:35pm

      Re:

      When it is implemented in firmware, burnt into on-board flash of a processor, and the critical parts of the board buried under export blobs, it is quicker to rip out the control system and build your own. Depending on what tricks the maker have got up to, this may also require replacing sensor and motors.

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    • icon
      JMT (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:24pm

      Re:

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:53pm

      Re:

      Yeah, there's absolutely no way you could fool the GPS afterward... :rolleyes:

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  • icon
    Todd Knarr (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:11pm

    There's another reasonable reason to lock a machine like this: there's some fairly delicate parts in these machines that can be easily damaged if the machine's not moved properly or isn't placed and leveled correctly. Most manufacturers already say "If you don't have us assisting in moving it to make sure everything's done right, we won't do repairs on it and won't support it from that point on until we've come in and done a complete prep-and-install on the machine to make sure everything's right again. And it will be at your expense.". It's much the same reason companies I worked for put ShockWatch tags on expensive equipment we were shipping, to be able to tell when it arrived whether it'd been mishandled. Policy was that if it arrived with a ShockWatch tag showing red, we were to document everything including photos and make sure the damage claim form was filled out and signed by the driver before we accepted delivery. If they'd broken it in transit we wanted their insurance to be picking up the tab for replacing a hundred grand worth of tool, not us.

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    • icon
      Rikuo (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:18pm

      Re:

      What part of "Don't move it unless we're there to assist you" actually requires this type of geo-location DRM? If the machine didn't have it, and the purchaser moved it and broke something delicate, then as you say, he'd still be on the hook for paying repair costs, since there wouldn't be a record of the manufacturer having sent it's employees out to assist.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:02pm

        Re: Re:

        If I were to venture a guess: Because it is relatively cheap! The gyro is probably used for leveling since it is a high precision tool. Wouldn't expect is to be for DRM as such.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:15pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The gyro is there to detect movement when the GPS fails, like due to being in a factory and surrounded by metal. Being as it give a point position, it is useless for levelling. To level a machine like that you need to measure by some means the beds relationship to a plane, which is usually done by making sure that it is level in length, and at 90 degrees at both ends of the length.

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        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:09pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          It's still not as cheap as just looking at the service record -- which has to be done anyway.

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      • icon
        Todd Knarr (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:56pm

        Re: Re:

        Because companies would move the equipment, damage it in the process, then try and claim they hadn't done anything (how many times have we heard that from users?), move the machine back to where it was originally if need be and try and get the manufacturer to cover the repairs. So rig the equipment so there's no problem if it's left alone, but if it's moved significantly it locks itself. If the owner's followed the service contract they'll never have this happen because they'll have you there during the move and you'll unlock the machine as part of checking that it's installed properly in the new location. And if you get a service call for a "faulty" machine and it turns out it's been locked because it was moved, the owner can't try and make you foot the bill for damage they caused. Most of these machines that I've dealt with can have the lockdown disabled, and the manufacturer will do exactly that for you if you're not renewing the service contract (although they'll also usually require you to sign a statement that you understand the equipment will not be covered by a warranty or service agreement after this point and if it needs repairs it'll all be on your dime).

        I was taught to do something similar on cars. I'd chalk-mark parts before work was done, so I could tell afterwards if they'd moved stuff they shouldn't've or failed to move stuff they ought to have. Worst case was catching a dealer trying to tell me they'd put a completely new transmission in (manufacturer recall, the transmission was to be completely pulled and replaced, housing and all), but there on the "new" transmission were the exact chalk marks I'd put on the old one marking the alignment with the engine and the drive shaft.

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      • identicon
        Jeremy, 13 Jan 2014 @ 10:31am

        If it broke while moving it then they could move it back and be like,"it just quitting working, we don't know what happened."

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:29pm

    Samsung has already begun to do this with its Galaxy devices since last year.

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  • identicon
    Applesauce, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:32pm

    These don't use GPS

    They use a gyro and motion sensor kit. Think "tilt switch". It is not sophisticated enough to tell if you've moved the machine a mere six feet or all the way to Iran.
    Still, companies are taking advantage of the Federal rules to squeeze their customers. Just as the commercial airlines have used TSA regs to make it impossible for you to resell your airline tickets as I remember doing many years ago.

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  • icon
    John Fenderson (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:35pm

    Time to invest

    I guess it's time to invest in all of the various companies that make GPS spoofing hardware.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:41pm

    Out of Business

    So what do you do when the manufacturer goes under and your building lease is up?

    I suppose you could sell it for scrap....

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:45pm

      Re: Out of Business

      If the manufacturer goes under, the first component failure makes the machine scrap. They have probably put a switch inside the electronics box to disable it if the box is opened.

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    • identicon
      mosqua, 11 Jan 2014 @ 8:25am

      Re: Out of Business

      Ez, Just make sure that you stipulate it in the initial contract.

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  • icon
    MikeC (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 12:58pm

    GPS inside a factory??

    How are they getting GPS to work in a lot of locations? Many many industrial locations have so much interference or physical blockage that GPS won't work. How do they account for that. I can take you a brass extrusion company where the ovens, smelters and electronic interference make cell phones useless in the parking lot. Good luck with GPS.

    This sounds bad and it really is, But as was said, I am much more worried about what happens if they go out of business. Since I've worked on CNC's that are 20-30 years old w/control systems that are from companies that don't exist anymore. Old software, mod's, on and on and on with possible problems.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:06pm

    So the only reason of this is because someone still believes that Iran is building nukes.
    That someone is the US government, which in the past few years lost all of its credibility.
    So again they do something really stupid and say its because "muh terrorists"

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:11pm

    Then all one would have to do is use GPS jammer to circumvent that.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:18pm

    Liability

    Under what law or legal precedent is it the tool manufacturer's responsibility to prevent their tools from being exported by third parties? Aside from willful ignorance, why would the manufacturer be held liable for illegal exports by third parties?.

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  • icon
    Andrew Norton (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 1:26pm

    I used to machine (many years ago I was a robotics guy ,was even one of the tech advisers/safety inspectors on BattleBots), and I'll tell you one thing about modern machining. The low-end stuff today, is worse than the low-end stuff from the 40s.

    Second, 90% of all mills and lathes come from China.

    Third - there are a NUMBER of conversion kits, to turn regular mills and lathes into CNC machines, and has been for a long time. I remember the battleBot builder association SORC buying and installing a conversion kit in 1999.

    Fourth -mills and lathes and CNC machines are not that complex. In fact they're a lot simpler than atomic weapons to construct. So, if you're worried about constructing a bomb, and don't want them to do it, trying to den them a much simpler tool used for it, aint going to work. Especially not when there are even open source kits out there. After all, how well did the Ban on CNC machines hamper the Manhattan project? (I know the ban was temporal, in that they hadn't been invented at that point, but the US made them without needing a CNC)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    John Nemesh, 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:05pm

    geolocation locks are already out there

    Sprint's femtocell (AirRave) already does this as well, although I am not sure of the geographic restrictions, it will not operate AT ALL without a GPS lock. I am guessing that if you leave the US, it will know it and wont allow it to operate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 4:16pm

      Re: geolocation locks are already out there

      Is it CDMA or UMTS (3G)? If it is, it can't operate at all without a GPS lock. The CDMA protocol (also used in a modified form by UMTS) NEEDS a precise time reference to work correctly. This precise time reference usually comes from the GPS. Without it, there would be lots of interference.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    raindog469 (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:11pm

    Not the first device to do this

    Living in a rural-suburban area, we have wireless phone service issues inside our house, so bad that our carrier has provided us with two femtocells (devices that plug into your broadband connection and act as a tiny cell tower, routing your calls over IP). Both of them have had a GPS antenna on a long wire that you have to stick in a window so it can geolocate you. Until it does, there's a red light flashing on the front of the unit and it's essentially a brick.

    Someone at Sprint told me when I first got it that it's due to export regulations, and I know I've heard of satphone users getting in trouble in countries whose governments are also monopoly phone companies. Maybe it's that, maybe they need location data on every phone to share with the mighty US government. Who knows? Either way it's annoying as hell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:33pm

      Re: Not the first device to do this

      Did Sprint provide these at no charge? If you're renting them, you should look into just buying your own. They're readily available (Amazon even sells them), and you don't have to worry about any geolocking.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        raindog469 (profile), 13 Jan 2014 @ 8:47am

        Re: Re: Not the first device to do this

        We did get our femtocells for free. But look on Amazon: the only Sprint-compatible femtocell is exactly the same unit as Sprint provides for free, with the same mandatory GPS antenna.

        Perhaps you were thinking of repeaters, which require no GPS antenna but wouldn't help us as much since the coverage in our neighborhood is terrible in general, even for the two big guys.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 4:24pm

      Re: Not the first device to do this

      There are several good reasons to lock a femtocell to a fixed location.

      First, Sprint has a license to the frequency used by the femtocell which is restricted to a geographic area. This is not like wifi, which is unlicensed. Within that geographic area, only Sprint is supposed to use that frequency; outside it, the frequency can be reserved to someone else.

      Second, for operational reasons even within the geographic area they have to know the precise location of every femtocell. On a cellular system, all cells are sized and have frequencies chosen to avoid inter-cell interference and to allow for a specified level of service. This also applies to femtocells: if they are put somewhere unexpected, they can mess with the careful planning.

      Third, they have to be able to locate (and remotely disable) the femtocell in case it's misbehaving and causing interference.

      A femtocell is just an extension of the operator's wireless infrastructure. It's part of the operator's cellular network.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 2:28pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with the handful of "Don't like it? Build your own comments.

    In today's age, there's little excuse for not at least having a basic idea of how to build your own stuff, instead of being dependent on a third party that can at any time become an adversary.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 4:42pm

    Wait, since when can the government force private corporations to ensure their products aren't being smuggled into embargoed nations? Isn't that why we have customs and border patrol officers?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 12 Jan 2014 @ 11:41am

      Re:

      Since always. The government can certainly demand that any machinery being exported must include certain features (such as a geolocation lock). Manufacturers wouldn't have to include the feature in units sold domestically, but if the feature is cheap enough, they'll just throw it into every unit they make anyway.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 6:34pm

    Line of Sight

    Um, GPS needs line of sight to work. I often have to take portable GPS devices outside to get them to acquire, or put them to the window, and then it may depend on how many satellites are in that direction.

    If the mill is located outside, GPS would not be a problem, unless they were in the bottom of a canyon. Do they often locate CNC mills outdoors? Indoors, no one will have any idea where the device is, via GPS.

    It is far more likely that the device requires Internet access and the locating is done by IP address.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 12 Jan 2014 @ 11:43am

      Re: Line of Sight

      GPS needs line of sight to work


      Sortof. GPS needs to be able to see the signals from at least three GPS satellites. Completely unobstructed view to the satellites is not necessary -- I can get a GPS lock inside the office building I work at, even though I'm nowhere near a window. However, GPS signals are also very, very weak and are easily obstructed. Some buildings (like yours) will obstruct the signals, while others (like mine) will not, regardless of direct line of sight. It all depends.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 10 Jan 2014 @ 9:29pm

    I am seeing a lot of CNC machine dumps in the MESS future.

    I don't know how that GPS check is done, but in the worst case with the GPS embedded in the main chip controller, one could possibly dump the original set of instructions, emulate everything and bypass the GPS apparatus to a dummy GPS emulator that would give always the same coordinates.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    drew, 11 Jan 2014 @ 12:57am

    They will never learn.

    DRM does not apply to pirates, but it will do a good job of pissing off legit users.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Annonimus, 11 Jan 2014 @ 8:03am

    And 3d printing is on the rise

    As they try to add more and more control and leases to their products the legacy machine manufacturing industry will fuel its own downfall by making room in the market for machines that are produced by assembling illegal 3d prints (lets face it: they will try to get 3d prints for making machines banned for the same reason the copyright lobby is trying to legally control what the copy function on a computer can be used for) without any GPS components and without any intentional security holes for the government to use.

    Buckle in people, a new front is opening up.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Daemon_ZOGG, 11 Jan 2014 @ 11:56am

    GPS spoofing?

    youtube.com . Also, with reasonable skills in programming and component-level pcb hardware. Along with exploritory reverse engineering (partial disassembly). It shouldn't take too long to disable the offending device. A couple of weeks, maybe.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Mega1987 (profile), 11 Jan 2014 @ 5:09pm

    well. well. well....

    Looks like those company are expanding some of their departments.....

    by making their databases to handle at least more than a million records,if not billions, a year plus the cost of maintaining and updating such database....

    I mean add gps system to a device? cars, I can understand that as well as other TRANSPORTATION SYSTEMS as they need those so they won't get lost during their travel/journey... especially in airplanes and ships.

    but on other computer device other than a handheld device on the purpose of tracking the device, other than using the map/weather app in any mobile device, to put an AUTO SHUT OFF system if it goes out of bound and must wait for the company to send it's reactivation code to use it again from a different location?

    add more cost to the product to justify it?

    oh well... more reasons for Jailbreakers to kick up their technical skills to counter such lockdown...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Jan 2014 @ 7:49pm

    We've already fallout over the NSA and people deciding they don't need US products because they might be spied on. So how long till these companies making this type of CNC mill find out they don't have a market either? At this rate the US government is going to look around one day and find despite all these trade treaties that no one is buying from them.

    Boy that'll really fix the economy won't it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pragmatic, 13 Jan 2014 @ 6:45am

      Re:

      We can only hope. Because at that point, the blowback will create the momentum we need to effect change. There's just not enough outrage at the moment because it's not enough of a problem to the average Joe.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2014 @ 12:54pm

    Boycott them.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Jan 2014 @ 3:11pm

    Wait for the monetization of this concept....

    Your machine comes with a 5 mile "home location" any movement outside of your licensed 5 mile radius will result in your machine shutting down and becoming inoperable.

    Don't worry, once you move your machine back within your home location radius, you can re-activate your machine for only $1000. (US cash only, no checks please).

    If you would like to purchase a 100 mile radius license, the option is available for only $10,000, 1000 mile radius license available for only $100,000, 10,000 mile radius license for only $1,000,000 (you get the picture, call us and we will sell you the license you need at an appropriately gouging price).

    Trademark/Copyright/Patent Pending... all your license are belonging to me.... muahahahaha

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    97pstore, 19 Feb 2014 @ 2:08am

    I had found a valuable article here and thanks for giving this nice content and also i request you to visit mine also: Paper Products for Parties

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Ben C. Benson, 14 Nov 2014 @ 12:41am

    Just rip out teh Jap-Junk controls and install LinuxCNC controller, and compatible servos and servo amps. Problem fixed. Of course, you could just get a used machine and do that from the get go anyway. There are plenty of Brother Tapping Centers out there that can be had cheap. There's a thread on cnc arena about a TC-225 refit - neat stuff. Anyway, this is nothing new, really. The Japanese have always been very shady about building non standard and obfuscated controls and not supporting anything. They're reply is always "just buy new machine".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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