Not Your Average Prank Call

Not Your Average Prank Call

Lili Georges, Staff Writer

   18-year-old app developer Meetkumar Hiteshbhai Desai was charged with three accounts of computer tampering this Saturday after releasing a code that forced phones to repeatedly call 911.

  The incident began when Desai shared a link on Twitter. When clicked, this code led to a code that could freeze or restart iPhones. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office released a statement saying that the link was clicked at “least 1,849 times,” triggering over 100 ‘hang up’ calls to the Sunrise, Arizona 911 dispatch center.

  The Sheriff’s Office explained, “The incident posed an immediate threat to the 911 emergency systems, because it could have easily spread to other states. Desai justified the incident by saying he was researching Apple bugs to take part of the company’s bug bounty program, where hackers search for issues in software.

   Desai also described to investigators that his friend gave him a bug to work on. He then figured out he could tweak the code to create pop-up ads and turned on the dialing feature on IOS phones with a piece of Javascript code that he created. Desai did not believe the bug to be harmful, only that it was a joke and that the bug was “funny.” Jessica Goucher (11) views the incident as avoidable, explaining,“If he’s smart enough to make the app, he’s smart enough to realize the consequences.”

  The young hacker was transported into the Maricopa County Jail after the incident. However this “accident” could have easily taken a turn, considering 911 systems are vulnerable and are exempted from filtering phone calls. Currently, the penalties Desai faces are unclear. But even so, the danger of hacking without explicit permission can lead to negative consequences for everyone involved.