Samsung Reveals Kill Switch That Can Remotely Disable Stolen TVs

Samsung was an early leader in smart TVs. Most of its sets now feature wired or wireless connectivity and can run apps, stream video without a standalone device like Roku or Apple TV and even access your office PC. But did you know that Samsung can also use that connection to remotely disable any TVs that are stolen?

When former South African President Jacob Zuma’s 15-month prison sentence began on July 8th it set off rioting in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal. Three days later a Samsung warehouse in the province was ransacked by looters — who made off with scores of smart TVs.

Those TVs, of course, ship with a number of factory-installed apps. One of those apps is called TV Block. When remotely activated by Samsung, it renders the TV useless.

Samsung has triggered TV Block for all of the sets that were stolen from that particular warehouse. Should someone who has acquired one of those sets connect it to the Internet, it will quickly be hobbled by TV Block.

The only way to restore functionality is to provide legitimate proof of purchase and, in jurisdictions like South Africa, a valid TV license.

It doesn’t seem like a strong possibility that this will happen to any of these sets. Not, at least, until they’re returned to Samsung.

In a statement posted on its African website, Samsung stated that the aim of TV Block “is to mitigate against the creation of secondary markets linked to the sale of illegal goods.”

Samsung surely has safeguards in place, but you may want to be extra careful with the receipt for your smart TV just in case.

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