Image: Thibault Penin
Samsung says that it can disable any of its Samsung TV sets remotely using TV Block, a feature built into all television products sold worldwide.
This was revealed by the company South Korean multinational in a press release issued earlier this month in response to the July South African riots that led to large-scale looting, which also impacted Samsung warehouses and stores.
“TV Block is a remote, security solution that detects if Samsung TV units have been unduly activated, and ensures that the television sets can only be used by the rightful owners with a valid proof of purchase,” Samsung said.
“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.”
As Samsung explains, the goal behind remotely disabling stolen TV sets is to limit looting and “third party purchases,” and ensuring that the TVs can only be used by “rightful owners with a valid proof of purchase.”
How TV Block works
The TV Block function is activated remotely on all TV sets stolen from one of its warehouses or distributors by adding their serial numbers to a list on Samsung’s servers.
After a stolen TV is connected to the Internet, the device will check the list of stolen devices on Samsung’s servers, and it will automatically disable all television functions if it finds a match.
If Samsung TVs belonging to actual customers get blocked by mistake, full functionality can be restored within 48 hours after sending proof of purchase and a valid TV license to the Samsung retailer or the firstname.lastname@example.org email.
“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,” Mike Van Lier, Samsung South Africa’s Director of Consumer Electronics, said.
“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.”
While Samsung says TV Block is an innovative function that can only have a positive impact, one must think about what would happen if malicious actors would breach the company’s servers and gain access to the block list used to disable stolen TVs remotely.