Law enforcement officials push for a smartphone “kill switch” to thwart thieves

Law enforcement officials push for a smartphone “kill switch” to thwart thieves
Many smartphones have the ability to be remotely deactivated or wiped, plus there are applications for devices that do not have that native feature. Apple introduced “Activation Lock” as a new feature of iOS 7, which prevents thieves from turning off Find My iPhone or wiping the device and reusing it without the owner’s Apple ID and password.

Still, top Attorneys General in several cities are contending with a crime wave of smartphone thefts where upwards of 405 of all criminal activity in some cases is the theft of a smartphone. Like any politician however, they assert blame rather than responsibility, so their ire is directed to manufacturers whose only problem seems to be that they build and sell the devices that we buy and that thieves try to take away.

On the heels of a meeting between city officials and manufacturers which we reported to you last week, Attorneys General from San Francisco and New York City are forming a coalition called the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative aimed at pressuring manufacturers to help “dry up the market in stolen phones.” Despite moves made by Apple and Samsung, officials are still calling for more and offering sound-bites as to what is being done so far.

While the technology will certainly find a solution to aid in this problem, nothing beats an individual that is situationally aware and knows how to make their technology work for them. That may include not compromising one’s own safety for sake of a gadget. That said, help from the manufacturers or relevant application certainly would be welcome.




1. FlushGordon unregistered

But they can always export stolen phones, a lil bit o' Chinese will be up and running again in no time The solution is to invent a self-destructing thingy inside, which I will ever happen

4. Dingy_cellar_dweller

Posts: 339; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Thats what all phones need is a self-destruct that brick's the phone and needs a motherboard swap not a software fix, to repair the phone. It also doesn't create a new black market phone repair culture within the phone world, like the phone unlocking of the past eg. unlock your barred stolen phone on the net for a price. It will good for everyone, phone companies sell more phones and kills the stolen phone market overnight.

12. FlushGordon unregistered

On the negative side..these ''feature'' will surely add up to a phone's SRP.

7. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

It will also destroy your second hand mobile phone market along with its resale value.

9. indianapple89

Posts: 47; Member since: Feb 28, 2013

Why? As long as the deal is legitimate, the previous owner would probably unlock the device and restore to factory settings before handing it over.

2. nicholassss

Posts: 368; Member since: May 10, 2012

405 out of all the crime in the world doesn't seem so bad. I kid, I kid.

3. Dr.Phil

Posts: 2352; Member since: Feb 14, 2011

I'm pretty sure there is a way to repair a bricked phone (or reflash it somehow). Also, even if there wasn't a way to repair the device, then that still doesn't really help the situation. First of all, the phone is then rendered useless which means if by some chance the owner found the phone or got it back then they couldn't use it. That person's money is now down the drain. Secondly, even if the thief couldn't use the phone, they could still sell the parts for money (i.e. the display, in some cases the metal backing, etc.). People would pay good money for it as replacement parts. So, all in all, not a good idea.

5. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

I agree, when the phone it stolen it costs the thief nothing. Even a the smaller amount he sells a briked phone is still profit. Stupid politicians. It's all supply and demand. Just like drugs, they are illegal but it everywhere. The screen and battery alone will probably get you $20. The biggest thing that can help is the owner not leave it someplace where it can get stolen. Don't leave it on your car dash board because you have it hooked up to your solar charger. Don't leave it plugged into the cigarette lighter when your car is parked. And most thefts probably happen when they set their phone down and walk away only to return after it has been taken.

6. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

Great article Maxwell.

8. techloverNYC

Posts: 601; Member since: Nov 20, 2012

how about we increase the punishment for the cell phone thief? Most of them ignore the punishment for petty theft, because the punishment is not that harsh. If the sentence is increase, they will know the government is serious about this.

10. sarge77

Posts: 202; Member since: Mar 14, 2013

every phone is trackable based on the mac address like a pc once you get access to internet that id blocked from being registered again. Thats all then all this device would be good for is home use not mobile usage.

11. Penny

Posts: 1850; Member since: Feb 04, 2011

It would be cool if they could remotely brick the phone by making it short circuit or something. Do nothing to monitor/intrude one's privacy more than they already do, but make sure that criminals end up with nothing but paperweights.

13. rallyguy

Posts: 620; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

Good point Penny. Why don't police just call the NSA and find out where the phone is, who is using it, and what numbers are being called. Then they can direct one of their drones to zoom in on the suspect for police to arrest.

14. hopychangy

Posts: 5; Member since: Mar 16, 2010

When you ask for these kinds of solutions, you are saying the criminals have won. All the criminals will do is find ways to go around the changes made. Why not focus on the criminals who are being born to the obama created social program frauds and abusers on a daily basis.

15. Furbal unregistered

A kill switch would be far to easy to abuse.

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