Samsung has claimed that if the company discovers that its TVs have been stolen, it can remotely disable them. The “Television Block Function” was activated recently in South Africa, according to Samsung, after a number of Samsung TVs were stolen from a corporate storage during a wave of protests and disturbances last month.
Samsung says the technology is “already pre-loaded on all Samsung TV products” and “ensures that the television sets can only be used by the rightful owners with a valid proof of purchase.” It’s not clear, though, from Samsung’s description whether the feature is only intended to combat large-scale theft, or if it will ever be used to help individual consumers.
For the TV Block Function to work, Samsung needs to know the 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.
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 [email protected]