Smartphone theft is a big issue in the U.S. and many local governments have considered a number options to deter it including implementing mandatory “kill-switch” laws for smartphones although it looks like the wireless and mobile device industry have somewhat taken things into their own hands by setting aside their differences to sign a pledge to include anti-theft technology in phones starting next year.
The pledgers include the five largest U.S. cellular carriers and the biggest players in the mobile technology hardware and software business including the likes of Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Nokia, and Microsoft. By signing the pledge, these developers and manufacturers agree that devices sold beyond July 2015 will have the ability to remotely wipe date as well as be rendered inoperable to prevent device reactivation without the owner’s consent. The lost or stolen devices will also be restorable in the event that they are recovered. The participating carriers have also agreed to facilitate these measures when they’re implemented.
While this announcement has garnered praise from many local government officials, California Senator Mark Leno who has previously proposed the aforementioned mandatory kill-switch law in mobile devices sees the move as an inadequate measure saying:
“The wireless industry today has taken an incremental yet inadequate step to address the epidemic of smartphone theft. Only weeks ago, they claimed that the approach they are taking today was infeasible and counterproductive. While I am encouraged they are moving off of that position so quickly, today’s ‘opt-in’ proposal misses the mark if the ultimate goal is to combat street crime and violent thefts involving smartphones and tablets. While I am encouraged by the incremental progress, the wireless industry must commit to the whole solution, not just a piece of it, to protect their customers and make our streets safer.”
Solutions similar to the measures mentioned in the pledge have already been implemented by a few manufacturers and developers including Apple’s Activation Lock, the Find my iPhone app on the iTunes App Store, and the Android Device Manager available on the Google Play Store. The pledge announced today hopes to make the measures a fully supported industry standard.