Police and prosecutors across the United States have given a clear warning to smartphone manufacturers on Thrusday to install a “kill switch” on every new mobile device right away. The warning came after crimes related to smartphone theft increased to an alarming level.
On Thrusday New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a coalition named Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative, consisting of law enforcement officials, political leaders and consumer groups. The purpose of the coalition is to curb smartphone theft related crimes.
To achieve this goal, the group is vouching for a “kill switch” in every mobile device as a must. The “kill switch” would enable remote deactivation of stolen devices even on any network, anywhere in the world. With the technology, as envisioned by S.O.S., a stolen mobile device can be disabled even if it’s turned off, the SIM card is removed, or the phone is modified to avoid detection. This would dry up the market for stolen mobile devices, and is likely to reduce mobile device theft.
The idea of a “kill switch”, however, is not new. We’ve been hearing about it for some time. The proponents are using the staggering increase in crime rates related to device theft, which are as follows.
- 1.6 million Americans had a handheld device stolen last year.
- One in every three robberies nationwide involves a stolen cell phone.
- In New York City, cell phone robberies increased 40 percent in the past year.
And these are not all. Sometimes these robberies turn bad, and take lives. One such incident was of 23-year-old Megan Boken, who was shot and killed in St. Louis in 2012 by an assailant who was trying to steal her iPhone.
Although the case in favor of a “kill switch” is compelling, some people are also against it. And they have their reasons too.
But, the thing is that, Apple and Samsung have taken steps to introduce remote deactivation of stolen devices. However, their technologies might not have the philosophy of a “kill switch” at heart.
Prosecutors said that they would work with all mobile device manufacturers to ensure that all devices come with “kill switch” installed from next year.