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Is This the Best Way to Stop Cellphone Theft?
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 17:52:39 -0400

Begin forwarded message:

From: Robert Atkinson <rca53 () columbia edu>
Date: September 16, 2008 4:37:42 PM EDT
To: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Subject: Is This the Best Way to Stop Cellphone Theft?



This article describes software that allows you to track and listen in on your cellphone if its stolen. You can also trigger a siren on the stolen phone and negotiate for its return. All well and good, but the manufacturer suggests that you can put it on your kids’ cellphones and track them (and presumably listen in on their conversations). It ends with the challenge: “I’m sure users will come up with many more mischievous uses.” If this become widespread, cellphone thefts may go down but at the cost of loss of privacy and trust. I suppose the message is never except a “gift” cellphone from anyone, including your parents. How about “corporate” phones from an employer? Government phones? Are we better off with this?


“The Maverick software is hidden on a phone, so a potential thief can’t tell whether or not your phone has it. You give the company a second phone number — your spouse’s or a friend’s, for example. As soon as a thief replaces your SIM card with his own, the phone encrypts all of your remaining data, like your phone book, photos or text messages, so the thief can’t see them. It also sends that data to your second phone so that you have it.”

“The company suggests that its new anti-theft application could also be used by parents who want to track their kids. With its eavesdropping and siren-playing capabilities, I’m sure users will come up with many more mischievous uses.”


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E-mail: rca53 () columbia edu
alt: bob () robertcatkinson com

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