Named “Samsung TV Block”, the feature was first revealed in a support message (since deleted) earlier this month in connection with a number of major thefts from Samsung’s department stores in South Africa.
The message states that “the functionality comes pre-installed on all Smart TV products from Samsung and ensures that the product can only be used by the rightful owner”.
Although the feature so far has only been used in connection with the events in South Africa, it could potentially be used in other cases of theft.
The function is only activated when the TV in question is connected to the internet – which is necessary for Samsung’s Smart TVs to work. When the TV is connected, the device’s serial number will be checked against Samsung’s servers. If the serial number has been reported to Samsung, the TV Block will be activated.
The message from Samsung also states that it should be simple to deactivate the mechanism if it has been activated by mistake.
The news, however, has not only received positive reactions. Journalist Matthew Humphries in PCMag writes, among other things, that it can be disturbing for some customers to know that their TV could be deactivated at any time in the future without warning .
He also points out that the feature could open up the possibility for hackers to disable TVs if they manage to break into Samsung’s systems.