Apple's extension of "Activation Locks" to laptops will turn refurbishable electronics into e-waste

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/12/05/catalina-os-and-t2.html

3 Likes

“Sorry, not sorry” that laptops are now less lucrative to steal.

9 Likes

I would prefer that owners are better informed about deactivation. However, I never want to see a third-party be given access to unlock a T2 chip.

5 Likes

It’s not the end of the world.

If you want to get the bucks for your broken laptop, be ready to provide an account and a password to unlock it.

If you know this can happen and you don’t want to share your account and password, you can create another account and password just for that purpose.

3 Likes

Always nice to hear from Walt Mossberg:

Recycling companies could and should make turning off activation lock one of the steps required before accepting products.

10 Likes

I was smacked by this issue on MY OWN device when beta testing Catalina on my MacBook.

To ensure I wasn’t going to ruin my working environment, I installed the beta to an external drive. However the default settings make previous OS installs ‘unsafe’ and then it won’t boot into them unless the new image can be seen.

Short story was that if I detached my external drive, it wouldn’t boot from the internal drive anymore. It also wouldn’t verify my password to get into the T2 chip configuration. It was a mess to get into the config to change the settings so I could dual boot without having the external drive connected, as it wasn’t well documented.

3 Likes

Well, I know every time I have traded in an iDevice, one of the steps I’ve always had to do was prove Find My iPhone/Activation Lock was disabled. Whether it was to Apple, Gazelle, or even Gamestop

6 Likes

My first computer was a Mac SE, and 3+ decades on it may not be useful for modern computing tasks, but it still works.

These days, it seems like everything Apple does is a dark pattern designed to push new devices. Is your iDevice “too old” in Apple’s eyes? OS updates won’t install, Apple tells you repairs are impossible or cost more than a new device, Apple locks out independent repair shops with hardware shenanigans like this, hell - even iOS development is designed to push hardware these days(iCloud/iDevice 2FA is required, and there’s a lifetime activation limit of 3 iCloud accounts per device).

6 Likes

Consumers could and should make not having a hardware activation lock built into the device required before purchasing products.

2 Likes

Yeah, I’m going to call this a mixed bag at worst. Reduced incentive for stealing laptops is a good thing, and activation locked computers can still be resold for parts.

2 Likes

when Apple product owners fail to disable Activation Lock when they dispose of their equipment

Which always happens. For a company that’s celebrated for its design sensibility, it sure buries a lot of critical config and settings in its UI and makes you jump through all kinds of superfluous hoops to do things right.

This year’s Thanksgiving tech support for my mostly Apple-using family included going through a frustrating backup and de-commissioning of an iPad and also explaining to my mother why Adobe Photoshop suddenly stopped working on her Macbook after the last update. These sessions serve as an annual reminder to me why I stopped buying Apple products years ago.

[over to you, Apple fanbois…]

5 Likes

Yep, that was me, years ago. I guess you can call me a rough-and-tumble individualistic kinda guy, so that if I get my laptop stolen, it’s my own freakin fault and it’s on me. I don’t need Big Brother Tim Cook nannying me, protecting me from the Big, Bad World.

Seriously though, this is just one more incremental step to making Apple laptops just as disposable as their phones. Yep, a thousand dollar -plus disposable device. Or in the case of Macbooks, a several thousand dollar disposable.

2 Likes

I’ve been an apple user for over 30 years, and have had 2 iphones and a macbook stolen in the past ~15 years. All 3 had encrypted drives. I would rather that those devices were still being used somewhere than that they are sitting in landfills.

I’m currently looking for a new computer, and it will have to run some flavor of linux because they’re the only game in town left as far as I’m concerned. Configurability and repairability are 2 of the most important factors for me and apple has gotten worse on both every year.

3 Likes

I’m curious how Peter Schindler knows that few of the devices are stolen or lost/returned to their owners. How does one check to see if a device is stolen?

I agree that this is a mixed bag. Security is hard, especially if you’re trying to make it work for nontechnical users. Anti-repair policies are bad. The nexus of these two issues is complicated, and it doesn’t look like Apple is navigating that very well (giving them the benefit of the doubt, which is probably an overgenerous thing to do).

We inherited my MIL’s meager estate after losing her to brain cancer, and would have had her essentially brand new iPad Pro stolen by a shady cousin if not for Apple’s activation lock. Apparently cousin tried to reset it and link it to her own iTunes, but instead turned it into an expensive paperweight, at which point she “remembered” that dying MIL had left it at her apartment after some prodding. We’re pretty pissed that my MIL’s final digital memories had been erased from the device, but knowing this ghoul didn’t get rewarded for her thievery seems like some sort of small victory.

4 Likes

The 3 account activation limit is heavy handed but iPhones get OS updates for about five years and still work running an old version. How many other smartphone manufacturers offer updates for five years?

2 Likes

Refurbishes who accept cars without titles are called chop shops. Refurbishers who accept computers without passwords are called fences.

4 Likes

This.

At least on iOS phones, it’s trivial to (correctly) ‘wipe’ one in a way that will make it look like everything behaved as intended(and, strictly speaking, it did; data are purged and the OS is reset to out-of-box status) until you get partway through the setup process and run into activation lock.

For extra intuitiveness, the steps required to initiate a wipe do give you a scary warning message(below) you have to click through(to the effect that, yes, wiping your device will remove any data on it, do you want to back up?); but says nothing about the implications of leaving the Apple ID account logged in, a much less obvious thing.

I’d say that somewhere between a third and one half of the user phones that come back to IT at work due to upgrades and the like come back activation locked; and that’s with precise step-by-step instructions and repeated emphasis on the importance of handling the process correctly.

I can only imagine the lulz if you are trying to run a mac OS shop. While they’ve softened a bit over time(it took absolute ages; but now Apple Business Manager is a thing you can sign up for by jumping through some hoops), the presumption that Apple IDs will be individual rather than institutional remains strong; and there is going to be some significant learning the hard way once it’s possible to brick a macbook pro by not ensuring that the intern signs out of it correctly.

2 Likes

You can’t wipe an iPhone without turning off “Find my iPhone” anymore. Not only is it easy to find, but the OS makes you do it. This is a bit of a straw man argument Cory.

There is other ways of doing that, you know.