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Using Wireless Technologies to Fight Camera Theft

If every digital camera contained a SIM or RFID module, it could log into its manufacturer's product-authentication database when switched on and, if stolen, report its whereabouts and disable itself until returned to its rightful owner.
By Dieter Uckelmann, with contributions from Mark Harrison
Finally, one or more central repositories or product identifier authentication lookup services must be put into place that, ideally, would co-operate in a federated manner, and provide the following services and access to the following roles:

• Enabling a legitimate owner to register the unique ID number of a device given the lock key provided to that individual by the selling party, to thereby generate a locking key that should be known only to the current legitimate owner; all previous locking keys associated with that unique ID should then be unlinked and rendered inactive for that device's unique ID.

• Allowing a legitimate owner to record and report a device as stolen, by providing its unique ID number and locking key as parameters to an appropriate method or function.

• Enabling a seller to verify whether an item had already been reported as stolen, based on querying with a unique ID.

• Allowing the police to verify the legitimate owner's identity (based on querying with a unique ID and that person's authentication credentials) and to authorize a chargeback/reversal of the transaction so that anyone who buys stolen property could be reimbursed upon returning the stolen goods to a police station. This, however, would require the co-operation of one or multiple trusted billing services.

USER COMMENTS

Antione Borg 2011-05-29 01:22:55 AM
Great Idea but what if .... I like the idea of having a device turn itself off but the problem there is that it needs a good connection to 'home' before it can tell if it needs to deactivate itself. If I steal your equipment and then connect it to a closed network which is fully under my control, your device will never call home. Of course, devices that can't call home can choose to deactivate themselves as a precaution - but what if the Internet is unavailable (as happens regularly in the developing world and on islands which are dependent on a single Internet connection at times)? Would you really want to use a mechanism that renders your device useless even when it should be fine? Another alternative would be precise positioning. Have you heard of the EU funded TIGER project (http://gsa.europa.eu/index.cfm?objectid=A30D434B-0DF6-460F-CDBB523C6E79CB5E) From what I can tell, these guys are building the necessary hw/sw to allow a mobile device to work provided it is within a pre-established geographical area - and this is all obtained by a satellite feed. It strikes me that combining this GNSS-based approach and your idea would allow for a superior solution.

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