Times are tough and for many, that means having to choose which accounts to pay and which to allow to go into arrears to ensure you can still put food on the table. If going into arrears on particular accounts were to mean that you would lose access to your mobile phone, would that change the way you prioritise who to pay?
It’s a rather sombre conversation topic, but one that has come about thanks to the ingenuity of a South African company called Thinkadam. The company has created a remote device management tool that allows for an Android phone to be bricked, either temporarily or permanently.
Borne out of an idea to try and curb mobile phone theft in the country and allow for phones to become essentially useless once in the hands of criminals, the company is also gaining some interest in its technology from companies that could also use it to temporarily restrict a person’s access to their device should they fail to pay their bills as reported by Business Insider.
It’s not just bricking an entire phone though, as the technology can also be used to lock certain apps and features on them. Meaning that companies can block features on employee phones that are perhaps not relevant to their work or classrooms can block access to cameras during school hours. There are many different scenarios that can be applied to this sort of technology, which makes it so interesting for many companies to consider. It’s currently only available for Android phones, though the company believes that the technology can be adapted to work for Apple devices in the future too (though Apple may not allow that sort of feature in its app stores).
Thinkadam is currently marketing themselves to mobile network providers and financial institutions where this sort of technology would be most useful and where they can build it into their respective apps. I’m sure this could bring about many different legal issues as well if a company reaches too far, especially around the actual ownership of a person’s device and if they actually have the legal right to block or brick a phone for anything other than theft.
It’s great to see such innovative technology coming from a South African company, but at the same time, a technology that can be just as dangerous if it is used incorrectly.
Last Updated: October 26, 2020