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UK Firm To Release 'Screaming' Cell Phone 230

rubberbando writes "Yahoo news is running a story about a plan by a UK cell phone company to help reduce cell theft. Apparently, this new cell phone can be sent a signal after its owner has realized that it has been lost or stolen. The signal tells the phone to wipe all of its data and begin emitting a very loud and obnoxious sound. The sound will only stop if the battery runs out or is removed, but it will begin again as soon as the battery is replaced or charged. Even replacing the sim card will not help."
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UK Firm To Release 'Screaming' Cell Phone

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  • by Vihai ( 668734 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:42AM (#16288713) Homepage
    I would prefer if the phone could silently send me a usage report so that I could track who stole it and kick him in the a....
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:44AM (#16288719)
    Let's face it, a good proportion of "stolen" phones are people that want a free upgrade from the network. Oh look, they don't make that model any more, and coincidentally I was mugged today. Like the person that rung from the phone that was being reported stolen.
  • How long till... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KTheorem ( 999253 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @03:57AM (#16288785)
    How long will it be until something like this is implemented to "punish" those that are late on paying their bill or for people who decide they want to switch service providers?
  • Re:Simpler (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hankwang ( 413283 ) * on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @04:17AM (#16288853) Homepage
    in the Netherlands ... would require the thief to change the SIM card, which would make his action less than free (gratis).

    Well, they used the IMEI [] number of the phone that is tied to the hardware, although someone with the rights skills might be able to change the flash memory where it's stored. (By the way, you can see the number by typing *#06#). It requires cooperation of the mobile phone providers though, that should have a blacklist of stolen IMEI numbers and take appropriate action as soon as a stolen phone connects to the network.

    If this is a private initiative, it seems unlikely that all providers are going to cooperate with keeping track of IMEIs. It's more likely to work by sending a special SMS message to the phone number, which can easily be circumvented by the thief if he recognizes that it is a "screaming" phone and replaces the SIM directly after the theft.

    And never mind that you have to figure out the call center phone number to report the loss because all your phone numbers are stored inside the handset. By the way, how is this going to help you get back your phone? The thief will get rid of the phone, and it might be found by someone. But you need a secure system to make sure that only the rightful owner can de-scream it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @04:50AM (#16289009)
    If you live in the UK then you can register your phone (as well as other possessions) on a system called Immobilise [] which is actually supported by the UK police forces and doesn't cost a penny for a basic account. If you report the phone as stolen then the phones serial number is blacklisted and none of the mobile phone providers will provide service to that handset therefore rendering the handset useless. Sure, you might be able to get to the contacts etc with an inactive SIM on some phones but at least no-one else can use the phone to make calls etc. So, shall I spend an extra £120 or shall I use a free system which is endorsed by the police...?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @05:03AM (#16289075)

    Cell phones (GSM at least) Already have a GUID which is transmitted all the time while the phone is switched on.

    It is easy for operators to track the position of a stolen cellphone down to about a meter if they wanted to.

    They have used this to track down the polish kid who knifed someone to death over an iPod.

    If you have a cellphone and it's switched on, it's transmitting a guid and position continuously, always.

    This is why I think the spat in the UK about ID cards is silly, most people in the UK own a cellphone and it's freely, continuously and permanently giving away their identity AND position.

    Anyways. in short, if someone stole your GSM and you tell the police it's attached to a drum of sarin gas, they *will find it* in no time.
  • by CheShACat ( 999169 ) on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @11:00AM (#16291803) Homepage Journal
    But unfortunately IMEI numbers are almost as easy to change as the SIM - with a £5 cable off ebay and a quick bit of P2P software 'theft'. I did an old Motorola I had once just to see if I could.
  • Re:Obnoxious? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stonecypher ( 118140 ) <stonecypher@[ ] ['gma' in gap]> on Tuesday October 03, 2006 @12:42PM (#16293347) Homepage Journal
    They might play Britney Spears. It'd explain why they're described as 'screaming.'

All laws are simulations of reality. -- John C. Lilly