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Every mobile smartphone I have owned has required a first stage of "activation". This process requires an internet connection; alluding to a process aside of a CDMA or GSM connection, or cellular network registration. Both the iPhone and the Google-biased Android devices require this internet-based communication process. An android phone having activation software removed will authenticate and function normally within a mobile network, for example.

What is the purpose of requiring "authentication" of a mobile device? What are the security and privacy implications of distributing a device requiring such a process; with no explanation as to why the process is required?

  • I never came across such a mandatory authentication, except for using google's services. Which you can skip and simply not use the services. – Marcel Jul 13 '17 at 6:28
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Modern mobile OSes rely on services provided by the OS's developer like notifications, maps/location services, app stores, iMessage (for iOS), etc.

Activation registers your device with those services - in the background the device gets a token or client certificate it then reuses when talking to those services.

  • Your answer implies by using such a device, I am consenting to using the services provided by the device; and to not use said services is to not use the provided device. Is that correct? – motoku Jul 12 '17 at 21:50
  • @motoku yes, in most modern OSes those services are built-in and can't be disabled, so there is no way to not use those services without not using the entire device and returning it. I'm not sure how Android handles it but iOS presents you several license agreements and a privacy policy (that presumably outline those services and which data is sent to them) during activation that you have to agree to if you want to proceed. – André Borie Jul 12 '17 at 21:53

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