Why Do Gadget Makers Wield A ‘Kill Switch’?

Photo: Stahlkocher (CC)

Photo: Stahlkocher (CC)

Mark Milian writes on CNN:

When you buy a video game from Best Buy, you don’t give the retailer the right to barge into your house whenever it wants. So why do we give that permission to software companies?

Most popular smartphone operating systems and other electronic gadgets include what security researchers refer to as a kill switch.

This capability enables the company that makes the operating software to send a command over the Web or wireless networks that alters or removes certain applications from devices.

Apple, Google and Microsoft include this function in their platforms, along with a few lines in their usage agreements describing the policy. Google and Apple executives say this feature is important in order to protect against malicious software.

“Hopefully we never have to pull that lever, but we would be irresponsible not to have a lever like that to pull,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs told The Wall Street Journal in 2008. It’s there as a fail-safe for when the App Store gatekeepers erroneously approve an app that has problems, he said.

For more information, see original article.

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  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

     This is probably a hidden FCC requirement or something. For devices this open ended and potentially powerful it may be necessary if things get out of hand. I’m no Steve job’s fan but he’s right; honestly its a safety precaution for problems that even the developers have not yet conceptualized. Will/could the kill switch be used in a malicious way? Maybe. But that does not displace its usefulness.

  • http://hormeticminds.blogspot.com/ Chaorder Gradient

     This is probably a hidden FCC requirement or something. For devices this open ended and potentially powerful it may be necessary if things get out of hand. I’m no Steve job’s fan but he’s right; honestly its a safety precaution for problems that even the developers have not yet conceptualized. Will/could the kill switch be used in a malicious way? Maybe. But that does not displace its usefulness.

  • Simiantongue

    Trust us.

  • Simiantongue

    Trust us.

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