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September 09, 2009


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Well AT&T doesn't really have an incentive either way. For the most part, stolen iPhones aren't going to be activated on their network. Apple manufactures the phone and sells the content, but their policy seems designed to protect their actual unit sales.

If an iPhone is lost or stolen, Apple will likely sell a replacement.

They offer the MobileMe package, which lets you locate your lost or stolen iPhone via GPS, but they charge $99 dollars a year for the service. (In all fairness, other things are included in the package, but this really is the selling feature.)

So for Apple, you pay them around $200 dollars over the course of a two year contract to find your phone or they sell you a new iPhone for around $200 dollars in profit.

Jon Weinberg

The degree to which "kosher" encompasses -- or should encompass -- righteous behavior is currently disputed, at least within the Conservative movement. See, e.g., the documents linked from http://www.rabbinicalassembly.org/hekhsher%20tzedek/hekhsher_tzedek.html

Lisa Pevtzow

However, you could take the caterer to the Bet Din. They would probably adjuticate.


It would appear that to disable a piece of technology lost by the customer of a service company could expose the firm to increased liability. Firstly, if the firm could provide a blocking service but could not disable the device when necessary, what would prevent a frivolous negligence case that may tarnish reputation? And secondly, if the firm were to incorrectly disable a device, would they not risk alienating the customer? Passing any responsibilty for lost property to the service provider makes poor business sense due to the increased aforementioned risks.

Justin Donoho

Gadget makers could capitalize on our willingness to pay more for disable-able gadgets, without involving themselves in property disputes, by selling the gadgets bundled with disabling or locking technologies, such as passwords or remote keys, that are user owned and controlled. Thus the effort to disable and any resultant liability would be punted, from the gadget maker to the person--of the split up couple, in the sale gone bad, etc.--who owns the key.


I don’t have any law background both in life or academically, even if I’d like to, so excuse me if I don’t sound tremendously proficient in my logical reasoning, as I am just stating my opinion mostly for entertaining purposes.

The passage in the article that states: “If my cell phone is stolen, the carrier is happy to turn off the phone but not to disable that unit if a new SIM card is installed, but that is because it does not expect the new “owner” to pay the bills.”
What do you mean by turn off? Cell phones such as iPhones are already sold in the USA exclusively by AT&T, so both the company (Apple), and the carrier (AT&T), made some sort of effort to limit who can use the unit by SIM blocking it. Actually, Apple goes an extra step by re-SIM-locking your unit when you update your iPhone via iTunes. This differs, for example, in Europe (I am from Italy), where you can either get a prepaid or years long contract but the cell phone you buy will always be SIM unlocked and there is no need for anyone to request an unlock code by sending their IMEI number to the carrier, making it even easier for anyone to use a found or stolen cell phone.

I would differ between lost and stolen too. Losing your cell phone means, of course, that you were careless or at some point unfocused and lost awareness of your cell phone location. Your cell being stolen however implies that someone intentionally took something that you own for his/her gain and/or enjoyment. With this in mind, I would allow people who had their device stolen to be able to disable it, but I wouldn’t apply the same rule for someone who finds your device if you lost it. It’s sort of like if someone finds a five dollar bill on the street, we say he got lucky. If someone steals 5 dollars, now they are a thief.

This whole issue could, however, be solved very easily by making it so that both cell phone carriers and makers, instead of blocking or disabling your cell phone, could help you RECOVER your own unit and not make you pay extra money for something you already paid for, in any shape or form.

I’ll stop here. :-)


I'm not sure why it's any more Apple's responsibility to help me find my iPhone than it is the Gap's responsibility to help me find my lost jacket. At the end of the day, these companies are manufacturing products, not selling private investigator services.

Furthermore, to the extent there is demand in the market for such location services, that demand has already been addressed. First, you can easily remotely wipe all data from a BlackBerry or an iPhone, solving the security concerns. Also, LoJack is available for BlackBerries and a LoJack application exists for iPhones, solving the concern with recovering the physical product. If you're less concerned with getting your specific device back, most cell service providers offer loss/theft insurance for a monthly fee.

I think the truth of the matter is that people don't really value very highly any services beyond these. To the extent certain individuals do, I'm sure more third party solutions will arise. It's specialization of labor, pure and simple.

Matt - Law School in Fall of 11, hopefully

They should only do it if the market is willing to pay for the service.

The act is simple, but it still requires additional manpower, technology, and the bottom line is, more cost for them to offer this service to every customer.

These very companies being scrutinized are in existence to make a profit, so if the market demands it, and is willing to pay extra for the service, they will provide it.

But, to imply that they should morally or ethically offer the service is ridiculous. GPS tagging for theft is available for virtually any product, it's just a matter of $$. If one's phone or other article is that important to them, there is technology available to them to be able to track it.

Apple or any other company for that matter does not hold a monopoly on GPS tracking/disabling.

J. Fox

One of the costs imposed on users is the possibility of identity theft for a stolen device, as well as illegal purchases due to stored passwords, etc. Also, it may be used for illegal communications or downloads (too numerous to mention), with the repercussions initially directed to the purchaser who registers the device, or has the phone number, etc.

What are you willing to pay to prevent it? I am sure you and Apple can work out a deal.

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