San Francisco District Attorney to Apple: Enable Activation Lock on every iPhone by default

“San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón released survey results Wednesday that he says makes an argument for Apple to enable its Activation Lock security feature on every phone,” Donna Tam reports for CNET.

“When enabled, Activation Lock — which is available for iOS 7 users and requires them to activate the ‘Find my Phone’ tracking feature — prevents the unauthorized resetting of an iPhone or iPad,” Tam reports. “Gascon’s survey indicated that 78 percent of respondents who owned an iPhone have enabled the security feature. According to him, it’s an indication that Apple should enable this technology on all of its phones as a standard.”

Tam reports, “‘Apple should be commended for leading the way and making efforts to safeguard their customers, but it is still too early to tell how effective their solution will be,’ Gascon said in a statement. ‘Until Activation Lock is fully opt-out, it appears many iPhone owners will not have the solution enabled. This leaves iPhone users at risk as thieves cannot distinguish between those devices that have the feature enabled and those that do not.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Can somebody parse this sentence for us:

Until Activation Lock is fully opt-out, it appears many iPhone owners will not have the solution enabled.

It’s either too late in the day for us or Gascon doesn’t understand the meaning of “opt-out.”

The problem is the thieves, not the items that they steal. If you make one item “theft-proof,” you will still have the same criminals on the street. They will simply steal something else (like sneakers, purses, wallets, watches, etc.). How about addressing the cause of the problem for a change, instead of just applying band-aids to the symptoms?

Related articles:
Attorneys General for New York and San Francisco strongly urge iPhone and iPad users to download iOS 7 – September 19, 2013
S.F. district attorney optimistic over Apple, Samsung progress on anti-theft tech for smartphones – July 23, 2013
U.S. State and federal governments test Apple’s iOS 7 activation lock feature – July 18, 2013
U.S. officials call on Apple, other mobile device makers to help stop smartphone theft – June 6, 2013
The New York Times tries to blame Apple for smartphone thefts – May 2, 2013


  1. Why don’t we just force everyone to hire their own personal nanny and be done with it?

    There. Everyone’s needs fulfilled and unemployment eradicated all in one fell swoop.

    (Of course, this may require some revisions to the U.S. Constitution or we can just continue ignoring the parts of it that don’t fit with certain agendas.)

    1. I know. We will tax them, if they don’t hire one. If they can’t afford to hire one, nanny state will pay for the nanny. And we’ll make it easy, like a web site for hiring them. If you have a nanny you like you can keep them.

    2. This is where I agree with you First-Then. Personal responsibility is not a right. It’s required if you’re alive. Counting on #MyStupidGovernment to take over your personal responsibilities for you is ludicrous.

      That said, knowing how to fulfill one’s personal responsibilities is of crucial importance. That’s why excellent education and a positive culture for children is of crucial importance. Don’t count on either political party to adequately provide either, at this point in their dire corruption.

    3. Obviously, “default” does not mean “force”. Nor does encouraging people to cooperate so everyone’s phone is safer (whether they choose to lock their phone or not) is sensible.

      But please opt-in for a nanny if you need one. 😉

  2. This might work… Have a website that you can put in your phone number so the NSA can track it down. They could also tell you whom they called or what the text message(s) said. Game Over!

  3. MDN keeps turning this issue into a political point. It isn’t; it is quite practical.

    A friend of mine has a teenage daughter, whose iPhone 5 was stolen a few weeks ago. She foolishly left it in the locker room, in her backpack, unlocked and unprotected. The thief left a note saying “I always wanted an iPhone 5! Thank you!!”. Had the “Find my phone” feature been activated on this phone, she would have most likely been reunited with her phone before the end of the same day. Neither my friend, nor his daughter, were aware that the “Find My Phone” feature was actually off and needed to be turned ON.

    There are very many cases such as this one. Where theft is a consequence of poor decisions and of opportunity, and not of a systemic failure of the national education system that needs to be fixed. That iPhone was stolen because it was practically begging to be stolen; just like many otherwise decent kids stole a pack of gum from a convenience store at some point in their adolescence, so has this kid taken an iPhone that was just sitting there unprotected.

    No amount of political grandstanding and posturing can deny the fact that “Find my phone” is a feature that helps owners get reunited with their stolen phones and that therefore it should be required to be on. This is easy to implement. When activating the phone, the user should be forced to make a decision to turn off “Find My Phone” (or leave it on) before completing the process. It should be made in such a way that if person simply follows “Next”, “Next”, “Next” until “Finish” (without carefully reviewing each screen, which most people don’t bother with), the feature will be turned on.

    Let us leave the problems with the education system for another discussion. This is really not that relevant.

    1. Really? So if a girl dresses sexy, she is begging to be raped?

      Many people are out there treating the iPhone like a toaster, turn it on, turn it off. How about reading the fine manual. You just bought a computer that fits in your hand, educate yourself about the product.

      We sure can’t write laws to keep the idiots out.

      Maybe they should put a sticker on hair dryers to say “Do not use in bathtub”. Oh right, that already happened.

      1. No, she is not. However, to look at your example from another angle, all other things being equal, a girl is slightly more likely to get raped if she is dressed sexy, than if she were dressed bland (or frumpy).

        When you put your iPhone in a public space without any protection, and then leave that iPhone unattended, a reasonable expectation is that the phone is likely to get stolen. Key word here is “reasonable expectation”; a sexy girl can NEVER reasonably expect to get raped; except perhaps (and that’s a big maybe) if she walks through South Bronx on a Saturday evening in high heels and a mini dress.

  4. Yeah, that phrase was horrible.
    I believe he was saying, “Until Apple has a fully opt-out scenario, AKA Activation Lock on by default, many people will still not have that solution enabled.”

    Took some serious brain twisting as it’s late in the day for Me as well. LOL

  5. Really, this is like vaccination: if the lock is on in the vast majority of iPhones, thieves are less likely to steal MY iPhone.

    Look at it from a ROI perspective: if 50% of iPhones are locked and I can sell a stolen one for $200, then my reward for stealing one is $100, not too bad. If 90% are locked, then I only get, on average, $20, probably not worth the risk and I’ll steal that Android instead, even if I can only get $30 resale on it.

  6. I don’t disagree with attacking the cause, MDN, but the fact remains we’ll never stomp out crime. That’s not to say we should give up the good fight, either.

    I know so many people who have lost iPhones or had them stolen and never turned on FMi. Just having that on by default immediately ups the chances of a returned phone, even though nothing’s guaranteed.

  7. Yes, MDN let us just cure crime. What makes you think that stealing an iPhone from some idiot walking along with his phone glued to his ear is as apt to have his sneakers stolen. Do you lock your car? House? Why not your phone. Reminds of folks who do not buckle their seatbelts because instead we should do something to make others drive better.

  8. The MDN take has it wrong. It’s not just the thieves, it’s the enormous and apparently quite lucrative market for stolen iPhones. If Apple can lock down the phones as they leave the factory, making stolen phones less valuable, they will be stolen less. It’s that simple.

    Thieves went after $150 sneakers because they knew they could resell them and make a profit worthy of the risk. Not a lot of people were robbed for their $30 sneakers, since the risk of being prosecuted wasn’t worth the small gain.

    This isn’t the “nanny state,” this is simple common sense. When you buy a Camry or Accord, you get a specific key. It’s not like you can open the door to every Camry or Accord. It should be the same with the iPhone.

  9. MDN Take: “The problem is the thieves, not the items that they steal. If you make one item “theft-proof,” you will still have the same criminals on the street. They will simply steal something else (like sneakers, purses, wallets, watches, etc.).”
    How True
    Another example:
    You can take a Teabagger out of the Trailer Park, take away his Fox News and Rush, give them a bath and they are still idiots who vote against their own self interest.

  10. The rabid libertarians are at it again… Apple’s engineers have developed and deployed a way to minimize the impact of crime around their product(s) and now you neuron challenged fools think it should not be automatically activated? You oppose it because of some sophmoric and doctrinaire notion of “choice”. You probably think that choosing to refuse MMR vaccinations only impacts you.

    Simply standing around in an ideological circle jerking out slights like “nanny” or “Obamawhatever” for every post is getting tiresome. That Apple is able to protect it’s customers by not limiting the device in the name of “insecurity” is truly liberating. Simply put, it works even better if all iPhones are protected that way.

    Look sick-wads, to paraphrase MDN’s slogan “fix the problems of society not the device” is correct.
    However, MDN’s idea of “fixing” is to demand greater inequality by replacing democracy with the marketplace, social services with charity, and society with social Darwinism. Roll it back and get Victorian on all those unsuccesful SOB’s. In the Dollar we trust—an absolute.

    Absolute idiocy.

    1. I think the best solution for you is just not to have any phone. Then no one could steal it. But wait, you say, that’s my choice whether or not to have a phone. Nope. By your reasoning, you don’t have that choice. Since not having something, thereby it can’t be stolen, that is the ultimate crime deterrent. There is a place for you. It’s called Russia or China, with the commie pinkos.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.