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US officials call for smartphone kill switch to deter thieves

Get Apple, Samsung and Microsoft involved
Fri Jun 14 2013, 11:32
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UNITED STATES LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS are calling for smartphones to be fitted with kill switches to curb mobile theft.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the Save our Smartphones (SOS) coalition on Thursday, an initiative involving state officials, police chiefs, district attorneys, attorneys general and consumer advocacy groups. He cited statistics that show one in three robberies in the US involve the theft of a mobile phone, with a total of 113 mobile phones pinched in the US every minute.

"The epidemic of violent street crime involving the theft and resale of mobile devices is a very real and growing threat in communities all across America," Schneiderman said. "According to reports, roughly 113 smartphones are stolen or lost each minute in the United States, with too many of those thefts turning violent."

"Apple and Samsung have taken steps in the right direction, but it is clear to us that the industry as a whole has more work to do to protect consumers from violent street crimes," he added.

One of the measures being considered is the implementation of 'kill switch' functionality on mobile devices, which would enable handsets to be bricked if lost of stolen. Schneiderman said he believes this will help "dry up the market" in stolen smartphones.

US officials have sent letters to Apple, Google, Motorola, Microsoft and Samsung asking for additional security tools.

Apple recently took steps to deter smartphone theft with the unveiling of its iOS 7 operating system, which includes a new feature called Activation Lock. This requires a phone user to enter their iCloud user name or password to activate a locked or wiped phone, making it difficult for robbers to sell on stolen iPhones. µ

 

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