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iOS 7's 'Activation Lock' Delivers Cautious Optimism to Officials Concerned Over Mobile Device Thefts

One of the new iOS 7 features introduced by Craig Federighi at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote yesterday was Activation Lock, which aims to reduce the appeal of Apple devices to thieves by preventing stolen phones from being activated by new users.
There's one feature I want to talk about in a little more detail, which is Activation Lock. So, hundreds of millions of use Find My iPhone to find our phone when it's just lost in the couch, or maybe left at Starbucks, but also when it's been stolen. And now, with Activation Lock, if a thief tries to turn off Find My iPhone, or if they even wipe the device entirely, they will not be able to reactivate it because they don't know your iCloud user name and password. We think this is going to be a really powerful theft deterrent.
Apple's announcement comes just days before a summit scheduled by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón in which the officials are to meet with representatives of Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft to discuss issues related to mobile device theft. The officials have been pushing manufacturers and carriers to find ways to disable stolen devices in hopes of making them less desirable to thieves.

As noted by the Associated Press, Schneiderman and Gascón released a statement yesterday addressing Apple's activation lock and noting they are cautiously optimistic about the announcement while waiting to hear more details about how it works.
"We are appreciative of the gesture made by Apple to address smartphone theft. We reserve judgment on the activation lock feature until we can understand its actual functionality," the prosecutors said in a joint written statement. [...]

"We are hopeful that the cellphone industry will imbed persistent technology that is free to consumers that will make a phone inoperable once stolen, even if the device is off, the SIM card is removed or the phone is modified by a thief to avoid detection," the prosecutors said.
The summit is scheduled for this Thursday in New York City, and Apple will presumably share more information about Activation Lock with the officials at that time to help them understand its benefits and limitations.

Top Rated Comments

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82 months ago
Or just sign in with your Prism account.
Rating: 38 Votes
82 months ago

DFU mode... restore... bypassed

You don't read much, right?

Rating: 21 Votes
82 months ago

Or replace the chip.

I think the opportunistic thief looking for a quick buck is not in the market to start replacing chips on the iPhone's logic board....
Rating: 14 Votes
82 months ago
finally somebody took the initiative about this. I hope more and more companies follow Apple and make this.
Rating: 13 Votes
82 months ago
Some of the people in this thread really seem to be taking this to a level it was never meant to go. Of course phones can still be sold for parts. Of course this won't thwart 100% of theft. The point is to make it less enticing for a thief to steal the phone. I think this is a brilliant idea, one that I have been saying they should do (and they actually implemented it much like I expected they would) for a while now. I am going to reserve judgement selling hardware to a third party as Apple made no mention of how or if they are going to make this easier for the consumer.
Rating: 9 Votes
82 months ago

"...We reserve judgment on the activation lock feature until we can understand its actual functionality," the prosecutors said in a joint written statement.

Which will be, well, never.
Rating: 8 Votes
82 months ago
Here is what I think would be cool: If the phone has been locked remotely and the person tries to turn it on, using the motion sensor and everything else in the phone, it best determines when the thief is using and looking at the phone. It then takes a pic using the front camera all in the background and sends it to an email address associated with your iTunes account.

This would provide entertaining pictures for the picture thread.
Rating: 7 Votes
82 months ago

I expect thieves will still steal iPhones, simply because not everyone will have this turned on, and even if they do, they can probably sell your iPhone to somebody before you even realize it's missing. The person buying it will be screwed, but the thief will still get their money.

Turnaround will get faster, and street prices may get lower to accomplish that, but I expect there will still be a healthy market for these.

While there are people who are out to steal iPhones (and whatever else), I think there are a whole bunch of "other" people who merely take advantage of the situation of "finding" a lost iPhone (e.g., airline worker finding iPad in seat-back pocket and takes it home without turning it in). It is the latter scenario where they would be more likely to return it, knowing it will have no value to them. That said, the "knowing" part will take time.

Rating: 6 Votes
82 months ago
So the Activation Lock still kicks in when the phone is wiped, if Find My iPhone is on but not in Lost mode?
Rating: 5 Votes
82 months ago

DFU mode... restore... bypassed

for the benefit of the non reader

From Apples Website regarding the improved find my iPhone

Losing your iPhone feels lousy. Thankfully, Find My iPhone can help you get it back. But if it looks like that’s not going to happen, new security features in iOS 7 make it harder for anyone who’s not you to use or sell your device. Now turning off Find My iPhone or erasing your device requires your Apple ID and password. Find My iPhone can also continue to display a custom message, even after your device is erased. And your Apple ID and password are required before anyone can reactivate it. Which means your iPhone is still your iPhone. No matter where it is.

Rating: 5 Votes

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