Samsung recently revealed that it can disable TV sets remotely if it found the units were stolen. It said it was introducing a new feature called Television Block Function to disable all Samsung TV sets acquired through illegal means. The feature has been activated in South Africa after several units were stolen from company warehouses during a wave of protests last month. The South Korean multinational said the TV Block Function is a security solution to ensure that television sets can only be used by those who have rightfully purchased them.
For the TV Block Function to work, the user has to connect the TV set to the Internet. Once connected, the Samsung server will identify the serial number and if found unauthorised, the blocking system will come into effect and disable all functions. However, if a customer's TV is incorrectly blocked, the user can get it restarted by sharing a proof of purchase and a valid TV license with the company at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Samsung said that the technology is aimed at curbing the creation of secondary markets linked to the sale of illegal goods. “This technology is already pre-loaded on all Samsung TV products,” the company said in a statement.
Several parts of South Africa have been rocked by protests sparked by the imprisonment of former President Jacob Zuma, including in his home province KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Protests erupted in July after Zuma began serving a 15-month term for contempt of court for not attending an inquiry into corruption during his nine years in power.
Samsung said that it has activated TV Block Function on all of the TV sets stolen from its distribution centre in KZN since July 11. It said it will continue to leverage technology and develop products with “defence-grade security” and “intuitive business tools” to resolve societal challenges.
Mike Van Lier, Director of Consumer Electronics at Samsung South Africa, said the technology can have a positive impact at this time and will also be of use in the future.