Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos released the Assembly Republican Agenda for the 2015-16 term. On the agenda in 2015, the debate for a mandatory a “cell phone kill switch”.
If the law is passed, all cell phones sold in the Badger state would be required to have a back door in which, you or someone else, could delete everything on your lost or stolen devise. Although it sounds like a great idea to be able to protect your privacy, there are many concerns and applications that need to be illuminated on the subject.
First the agenda states:
*Cell phone “kill” switches: Requiring the sale of cell phones with kill switches would protect personal data, if a phone is lost. “The kill switch will enable the phone’s rightful owner to remotely disable it and clear its sensitive information,” the agenda explained.
If the Wisconsin legislation proposed is anything like California’s, we need to learn from the alarming privacy concerns. Since California passed SB 962 there has been a rapid advancement in technology and private agreements between the government and prominent cell phone platform providers that will increase our Orwellian state.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has suggested there is worry over who has access to this technology and that it will be “exploited by malicious actors”, ripe to be abused.
The EFF stated in its report on a similar piece of legislation SB962:
“Because of this hefty range of options already available for consumers, mandating a solution presents a host of problems. With an eye to the current landscape of security tools, if a “ manufacturer or operating system provider ” chooses a particular solution, innovation in this space may be discouraged — especially since the current number of “ manufacturers or operating system providers ” falls short of the number of security tools. Mandating any technological fix could “ lock in ” a less effective solution, preventing stronger third-party anti-theft applications from competing and innovating.
“Second, such security solutions have a basic premise: allow the proper user of the phone to remotely activate the “ kill switch ” in order to render the phone unusable (barring basic emergency calls). But SB 962 is not explicit about who can activate such a switch. And more critically, the solution will be available for others to exploit as well, including malicious actors or law enforcement. While SB 962 adopts the requirements of Public Utilities Code § 7908 to regulate and limit the circumstances in which government and law enforcement officials can activate the “kill switch,” the fact remains that the presence of such a mechanism in every phone by default would not be availablebut for the existence of the kill switch bill.”
In essence, SB 962 mandates the technical ability to disable every phone sold in California, and PUC § 7908
There is much information to be made aware of while we consider this law. First Google is seeking a patent to transmit all your cellphone videos to law enforcement.
According to proposed Patent #20140025755, “When there are at least a given number of video clips with similar time stamps and geolocation stamps uploaded to a repository, it is inferred that an event of interest has likely occurred, and a notification signal is transmitted (e.g., to a law enforcement agency, to a news organization, to a publisher of a periodical, to a public blog, etc.).
The patent raises questions about what level of remote access Google or any other company should have to your cellphone, and how such information may be abused or misinterpreted to alert authorities to ‘suspicious behavior’ which is in fact completely lawful.
According to U.S. Patent No. 8,254,902, published in 2012 for Apple, titled, “Apparatus and methods for enforcement of policies upon a wireless device.”
Apparatus and methods for changing one or more functional or operational aspects of a wireless device, such as upon the occurrence of a certain event. In one embodiment, the event comprises detecting that the wireless device is within range of one or more other devices. In another variant, the event comprises the wireless device associating with a certain access point. In this manner, various aspects of device functionality may be enabled or restricted (device “policies”). This policy enforcement capability is useful for a variety of reasons, including for example to disable noise and/or light emanating from wireless devices (such as at a movie theater), for preventing wireless devices from communicating with other wireless devices (such as in academic settings), and for forcing certain electronic devices to enter “sleep mode” when entering a sensitive area.
This could have a devastating effect on citizen journalism since everyone has a cell phone and it is used as evidence when citizens rights are violated.
It is not to far-fetched that a back door would allow others to remotely shut off your phone that may be used to call during an emergency or the government could use it to shut down communications in a sensitive area to prevent coverage, such as in Ferguson or a “Bundy Ranch” incident.
Michael Zhang at Tech site Peta Pixel suggests:
“If this type of technology became widely adopted and baked into cameras, photography could be prevented by simply setting a “geofence” around a particular location, whether it’s a movie theater, celebrity hangout spot, protest site, or the top secret rooms at 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, California.”
The same technology is also set to be installed into computers and laptops with NSA linked corporation IBM leading the way.
RT news, in the video above, stated there is “nothing stopping this technology from being installed on top of squad cars and from being used at protest events” such as we saw in Ferguson or a police brutality scenario.