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Samsung remotely blocks TVs looted during KwaZulu-Natal protests

Once connected, the serial number of the television is identified on the Samsung server and the blocking system is implemented, disabling all the television's functions.

Samsung televisions stolen during the looting last month in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng have been “blocked” so that criminals won’t be able to use them.

Samsung’s Cato Ridge distribution centre was raided during the unrest, but all of the stolen televisions were equipped with a “television block function”, the company said in a statement.

That means televisions can be disabled remotely.

The blocking comes into effect when the user of a stolen television connects to the internet, in order to operate the television.

For the TV Block Function to work, Samsung needs to know serial code of the stolen unit. When the set connects to the internet, it checks its serial code against a list on Samsung’s servers, and disables all TV functionality if it finds a match.

Once connected, the serial number of the television is identified on the Samsung server and the blocking system is implemented, disabling all the television’s functions.

“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,” said Mike van Lier, director of consumer electronics at Samsung South Africa in a statement.

The technology is already pre-loaded on all Samsung TV products, the company said in a statement.

Blocking the TVs stolen in South Africa was presumably relatively easy. They’d been taken from Samsung’s own warehouse, where the company would be tracking its inventory.

It’s possible that an average customer whose TV is stolen would be able to report its serial code to the company to have it remotely disabled, but it’s not clear if Samsung offers or plans to offer such a service.

The company does say, though, that in the event that customers in South Africa have one of their TVs blocked by accident, they can have the block lifted by sending a proof of purchase to zaservicemanager@samsung.com. – SABC/News Agencies

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