Apple device Activation Lock Status tool suddenly vanishes

A few years back, the rate of iPhone thefts have been so high that authorities have jokingly called the incidents "Apple picking". Since then, measures have been put in place both to deter the theft and resale of stolen iPhones and iPads as well as to arm buyers with some knowledge about potential purchases. One such measure was the "Check Activation Lock Status" web page that allowed users to check if a device is still currently linked to an Apple account. "Was", because over the weekend, Apple has mysteriously pulled down the tool and any reference to it but has offered no explanation why.

The purpose and use of the web-based tool was simple enough. A user enters the serial number or IMEI of an iPhone, iPad, or iPod. From there, they will be able to check if the device is still actually activated and linked to an existing Apple ID. The implication here is that such a device is most likely to have been lost (and never returned) or even stolen.

The tool protected buyers from fraudulent, unauthorized device resellers, especially those buying from online stores. This, in turn, served to discourage and shrink the black market for stolen Apple devices, since buyers would be able to request for the serial/IMEI of a device and check the information themselves. And if the seller refuses to give that information, the game is up.

It is strange then that Apple suddenly yanks out the webpage and any documentation that once pointed to that tool. Apple's docs now advises to check the device themselves in person by trying to turn it on. If they're met with a passcode, then it's still someone's property. If it starts asking for the previous owner's Apple ID, then the device is still activated.

That method, however, will be virtually impossible for those trying to buy a device online. Apple could, in a way, be giving the black market a chance to bounce back into business. Of course, what Apple really wants you to do is avoid those third-party resellers and only buy from authorized retailers or directly from Apple.

VIA: MacRumors