Date: Monday, January 30th, 2017, 05:48
Category: iOS, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, News, retail, security
Without hint or warning, Apple has removed the iCloud Activation Lock status page, which used to exist at iCloud.com/activationlock, but that URL now leads to a 404 error instead. The utility let anyone type in the IMEI or serial number of an iOS device to find out if Activation Lock had been turned off, something which proved to be useful to verify the authenticity of a seller when buying a used iPhone online.
References to the web page have been removed from Apple’s support documentation, indicating this is not a temporary issue and the page has been intentionally pulled from service.
A previous Apple support document recommended that users check the Activation Lock status of an iOS device before buying it to ensure that the product was ready to use. The text was removed on January 24th and the iCloud.com/activationlock URL stopped working not long afterwards.
Apple has yet to provide another means of finding out about the Activation Lock status without having the product in your possession.
It isn’t clear why Apple would take away such a useful utility. The ability to check if the device was still locked helped to prevent online sites from illegally selling stolen iPhones.
For a while, it was a common scam to put stolen iPhones on sites like eBay at a low price, turning a quick sale for the buyer to find that the device was effectively unusable as the Activation Lock was active.
Prior to this, potential iOS device users could as the seller to provide the IMEI and/or the serial number, check the Activation Lock web site and see whether or not the device might have been stolen or not. If the tool reported was still locked, or if the seller refused to provide the serial numbers, it would indicate the device had indeed been stolen and the purchaser could cancel the sale.
Apple’s online advice says to not ‘take ownership of any used iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch until it has been removed from the previous owner’s account’. This simply isn’t possible to verify now for online transactions, if the Activation Lock status tool does not return.
The Activation Lock feature has been enabled by default for iOS devices since the launch of iOS 8. As a result, the resale value of stolen iOS devices on the black market fell to a certain degree.
Activation Lock is available — and enabled by default — on all new iPhones, iPads, iPod touch devices and Apple Watch units. Users can disable Activation Lock on their own devices through the Find My iPhone app.
As always, stay tuned for additional details as they become available.