Law enforcement officials hope kill switches will deter phone theft

By on June 14, 2013, 8:30 AM
smartphone, theft, phone, robberies, kill switch, activation lock

Law enforcement officials and consumer advocates have come together as part of a new initiative called Secure Our Smartphones. The goal here is to help to curb rising phone thefts by getting manufacturers and wireless carries on board with the idea of implementing a kill switch that would render stole phones useless.

While certain crimes are on the decline, those involving phones aren't. For example, 50 percent of robberies in San Francisco last year involved a handset. 20 percent of reported robberies during the same time frame in New York involved a phone which is a 40 percent increase over the previous year.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said the technology for such a kill switch already exists but thus far, getting manufacturers and providers to go along with the idea hasn’t been successful. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said he met with Apple a year ago about the idea but was told it wouldn’t happen.

Perhaps that’s because Apple was working on a kill switch of their own. Earlier this week, Apple unveiled a new feature that’ll be part of iOS 7 called Activation Lock. This security feature is said to prevent a thief from reactivating a phone as they would need to know your Apple ID and password. Even if they turn off Find My iPhone and wipe the handset, they still won’t be able to reactive it.

Schneiderman said he hoped to get a kill switch installed in phones as early as next year.

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