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Tracking Stolen Gadgets — Manufacturers' New Dilemma 250

heptapod sends in a story from the NY Times about a growing problem for the makers of high-tech gadgets: deciding when and how it's appropriate to track a stolen device. With the advent of ubiquitous GPS and connections to services like the Kindle book store, the companies frequently have a way to either narrow down a user's location or impede use of the device. But some, like Amazon, are drawing a hard line when it comes to establishing that the device was actually stolen. "Samuel Borgese, for instance, is still irate about the response from Amazon when he recently lost his Kindle. After leaving it on a plane, he canceled his account so that nobody could charge books to his credit card. Then he asked Amazon to put the serial number of his wayward device on a kind of do-not-register list that would render it inoperable — to 'brick it' in tech speak. Amazon's policy is that it will help locate a missing Kindle only if the company is contacted by a police officer bearing a subpoena. Mr. Borgese, who lives in Manhattan, questions whether hunting down a $300 e-book reader would rank as a priority for the New York Police Department."

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