To catch an iPredator

Not to long ago, Dateline NBC did a report on iPod theft. I didnt really watch much of the show (debs did see a good part though), but you can check out most of the story on the MSNBC website here –

Ive got a huge problem with this story, and ill tell you what it is.

On the first page of this article, they dive into the ‘activation’ process of your iPod. Unless they have REALLY changed something, this doesn’t actually exist in the way they say. It sounds like the activation they mention is actually signing up for an iTunes Store account…which is TOTALLY different.

From what I remember, when you first plug in your iPod, all you really have to do is give it a name! You can own an iPod with out EVER having an iTunes account.

Its the consumers position to record serial numbers and other identifying markings in the case of something being stolen. While yes, it would be nice if Apple could track serial numbers this way, its not really the case. From what I have seen, Apple really doesn’t have a clue what iPod you have. Your iPod DOES know what your iTunes Store account is (it needs to so it can play music you are authorized to play). Basically, when you sync your iPod with a iTunes Library, the iPod picks up this ‘authentication’ from your library. Your library also does know information about your iPod (for syncing), but I am not aware of the iTunes library ever being sent back to Apple (unless in cases where you tell it too, for example downloading Album Artwork in the newer versions of iTunes).

As you read the rest of the story, it is pretty interesting how they tracked these stolen iPods. Basically they made a disk that acted like it was activating the iPod, but actually submitting the data back to them for tracking purposes. In many cases, it would be hard for the thief to tell.
While I really don’t like the way Dateline does many of these things, you have to admit they are very clever. While I find the ‘To Catch a Predator’ amusing, I feel that their methods are wrong. While the ‘predator’ is committing what would be an illegal act (trying to knock up a kid), they are actually pretty legal once caught (all the actors are of age, they never actually commit any contact, etc).

But finally – Dateline was caught being a little TOO sketchy. At the annual hackers convention – Defcon – one of Dateline’s reporters was caught sneaking in without the right credentials. She would have been allowed there if she had a News/Media pass, which would really limit the amount of information she was privileged too. Instead, she came in with a hidden camera, and was exposed. They even have video up on YouTube.

Listening To: ‘Cornflake Girl’ by Tori Amos


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