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Disappointment to looters in S’Africa as Samsung remotely switches off stolen TV sets

By Kalu Nwokoro Idika

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Electronics giant Samsung has “blocked” TVs that were stolen in South Africa during the unrest in July, rendering them unusable.

The company says it has an inbuilt “block function” on its TVs that can be used to remotely disable the sets.

The function is activated when a user of a stolen TV or one that has been acquired unlawfully connects to the internet, according to Samsung.

The system checks the identified TV’s serial number against the list on its servers before disabling its functionality.

Recall that South Africa had weeks of violent protests and looting last month that left more than 300 people dead and property worth billions of dollars looted.

Some of the reportedly popular items that were stolen were smart TVs.

The ability to remotely disable TV function has received some praise among online users for its potential use to deter crime, with some also noting its potential for abuse.

One person noted that Samsung was taking “electronic revenge” on looters of its TV sets while another said it was more reason “never to connect a TV set to the internet”

Samsung South Africa announced the implementation of a Television Block Function on all its TV sets.

The blocking system is intended to be implemented in respect of televisions that have been obtained by users through unlawful means and in some cases, stolen from the Samsung warehouses.

The aim of the technology is to mitigate against the creation of secondary markets linked to the sale of illegal goods, both in South Africa and beyond its borders. This technology is already pre-loaded on all Samsung TV products.

“In keeping with our values to leverage the power of technology to resolve societal challenges, we will continuously develop and expand strategic products in our consumer electronics division with defence-grade security, purpose-built, with innovative and intuitive business tools designed for a new world.

This technology can have a positive impact at this time, and will also be of use to both the industry and customers in the future, “said Mike Van Lier, Director of Consumer Electronics at Samsung South Africa.

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