Feds Try to Stop Auto Thefts by Banning This Wireless Device

flipper zero

In a move to curb the rising tide of auto thefts, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne, has announced a ban on the importation, sale, and use of consumer hacking devices.

These tools, including devices like flippers, have been exploited by criminals to steal vehicles by copying wireless signals from remote keyless entry systems. The decision was unveiled at a national auto theft summit, where Champagne emphasized the collective effort required to tackle this issue.

“At today’s auto theft summit, we sat down with provincial leaders, mayors, law enforcement, and industry to find solutions and steps we can take together to eradicate the scourge of auto theft in Canada,” Champagne stated on Thursday, pointing out the sophistication of tools used by criminals.

The ban targets devices such as the Flipper Zero, which has been identified as a potential tool for vehicle theft due to its ability to interact with various digital systems, including access control systems and RFID. However, the move has sparked debate within the tech community, raising concerns about the broader implications for digital tool access and development.

Critics like @dragosr, who mentioned the potential of using everyday items like Raspberry Pi for illegal purposes, questioned the feasibility and broader impact of such bans. “By the way, at my CanSecWest conference, some researchers recently showed how to use a Raspberry Pi to relay Bluetooth to unlock poorly secured Bluetooth car locks. Does this mean you are going to try to outlaw computers too?” @dragosr said on X, highlighting the complexity of regulating technology without stifling innovation.

The discussion has extended to the responsibility of car manufacturers in ensuring the security of their vehicles. @TophCoins argued, “Maybe the car companies should be held responsible for having awful security instead of punishing open-source devs.”

With news of car thefts being tracked down with Apple AirTags, but authorities unable to access stolen cars inside containers ahead of shipments to overseas markets, only now is the federal government waking up. Banning the Flipper Zero won’t stop all car thefts—auto makers need to beef up their vehicle security and consequences for car thieves needs to be increased.

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