Apple is posing a great challenge to law enforcement across the world with its proposal to introduce its new version of phone (iPhone 13) with a chip that can connect to the Low Earth Orbit (LOE) Satellite. The phone comes with a customized Qualcomm X60 baseband chip which may be able to connect to the Global star’s satellite communication. This facility will enable the phone to have connectivity from remote locations where there are no network connectivity. It is said that adventurists such as hikers, mountaineers etc may find this very useful if they are last in the wilderness.
While for technological considerations, this appears exciting, the introduction of this type of universal connectivity will pose a huge threat to the society. It will be immediately used by all Naxalites, Terrorists and Criminals. At present the tracking of mobile phones with reference to the mobile location is one of the biggest advantages that the law enforcement is using to crack many crimes. Crimes like rapes, murders etc are often tranced with the help of the mobile phone tracking.
Once iphone 13 is introduced, whether normal users use the facility or not, all criminals will definitely use the facility. It is said that the price of the phone may not be much different from other models and there could be increased subscription costs. But “Affordability” is never a challenge for criminals and hence Apple will be the biggest abettor for all types of crimes.
The Home Ministry should immediately ensure that the current system of licensing of satellite phones is further tightened and iPhone 13 is banned. Current generation of satellite phones are at least identifiable as different by the very looks. But iPhone 13 may look similar to other phones and hence any criminal in our midst may be using the phone for nefarious purposes sitting next to us without we being able to locate such phones easily.
I wish the Government of India takes immediate steps to ban the use of iPhone 13 in India with immediate effect.
Also refer: Forbes.com
The writer – Naavi is Data Protection and Data Governance Consultant. He is Chairman, Foundation of Data Protection Professionals in India (FDPPI) and Founder of www.naavi.org