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Android and Windows Phone devices will get an anti-theft kill switch

Follows launch of Apple's iOS Activation Lock
Fri Jun 20 2014, 13:16
Unlocking Big Data

GOOGLE AND MICROSOFT have agreed to add a kill switch to their respective mobile operating systems, US authorities announced on Thursday.

The move, which follows reports that iPhone thefts are decreasing thanks to Apple's Activation Lock, was announced by New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman on Thursday, who set up the organisation Secure our Smartphones (SoS) to pressure firms to include the anti-theft switch.

It also comes despite US wireless carries opposing the idea, likely over fears that they will miss out on the cash they rake in from punters buying replacement devices.

Such a switch will allow users of Android and Windows Phone devices to remotely lock and wipe their handsets if they are stolen, which according to SoS will dramatically reduce smartphone theft, citing the fact that iPhone robberies in New York fell almost 20 percent year on year following Apple's launch of Activation Lock.

Schneiderman said in a statement, "The commitments of Google and Microsoft are giant steps toward consumer safety and the statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of kill switches."

"In just one year, the Secure Our Smartphones initiative has made tremendous strides towards curtailing the alarming trend of violent smartphone theft. We will continue the fight to ensure that companies put consumers' safety first and work toward ending the epidemic of smartphone theft."

London mayor Boris Johnson also welcomed the announcement, saying, "By making the phone manufacturers face up to the responsibility they have to their customers, technology that previously attracted thieves is now being used to deter them."

He added, "The SOS has shown that the only solutions to these global problems are ones developed globally."

Microsoft has said that it will roll out the feature "before July 2015", but Google has yet to cough with regard to when its kill switch will arrive on Android. However, a kill switch feature is already available on the LG G3, with LG partnering with McAfee to equip its latest flagship handset with anti-theft measures. µ


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