Weaponised Devices

On just about every flight I’ve taken recently, a voice from the front of the plane has read a statement to the effect of:

The United States Federal Aviation Authority has limited the carriage of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 device. If you have one of these in the cabin, or in your checked in baggage, you must advise us immediately as you are prohibited from carrying a Galaxy Note 7 onboard.

For example, here’s the official statement from Air New Zealand.

This wasn’t some marketing ploy by Apple to eliminate a device from a competitor that was setting the market on fire, but more ominously a device that was setting itself and its owners on fire. Having that happen in an airplane is a very bad idea.

In light of the above, I fail to see how adding a heat-based physical self-destruct mechanism to gadgets makes any logical or moral sense. With widespread adoption of such technology, everybody would be carrying weaponised devices that could be activated in the case of theft (the positioned use case), but also run the risk of compromise (time-based malware, GPS-based activation, etc.). Every gadget-toting flyer would now be a potential terrorist.

It’s worth reading the comments on the article too (e.g., how do you deal with your toddler taking your phone outside and now having first degree burns covering their body?).

We should indeed protect our devices – encrypted drives, strong passwords, remote wipe and brick capabilities, two-factor authentication, biometric logins – but not weaponise them.

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