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Most Smartphones to Have Anti-Theft Kill Switches by 2015

By - Source: Tom's Guide US | B 4 comments

Credit: Kostenko Maxim Credit: Kostenko Maxim

Apple and Samsung are among a number of major mobile manufacturers, network operators and operating system vendors who have pledged to include anti-theft kill switches on all their smartphones sold in the US that are manufactured after July 2015.  This long-anticipated feature will allow customers to remotely lock their phones and delete sensitive data in case of theft, without the need for an additional app.

Apple, Samsung, Google, HTC, Nokia, Microsoft, Motorola and Huawei are all part of the kill-switch pledge, called the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment. Inclusion of these anti-theft services will come at no extra cost to consumers.

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The anti-theft kill switch will be either pre-loaded or downloadable for smartphones manufactured after July 2015. The pledge, found on the website of the CTIA – The Wireless Association, does not specify whether older phone models will also receive similar updates.

The pledge promises four main features for the anti-theft kill switch. First, users will be able to remotely wipe data such as contacts, photos and emails from their phones. Second, they can remotely lock the phone so that only the correct password or PIN will unlock it. In this locked state, the phone will still be able to make emergency calls to 911 and any other emergency numbers programmed into the phone, as per FCC rules.

Third, the pledge promises that manufacturers will prevent unauthorized users from forcibly reactivating a phone "to the extent technologically feasible." Finally, the pledge promises that if users recover their stolen phones, they will be able to unlock their phones and recover deleted data that they backed up to the cloud.

Several US lawmakers have been trying to pass federal bills requiring similar anti-theft measures on smartphones and tablets. However, some criticize the CTIA pledge as not going far enough.

"We strongly urge CTIA and its members to make their anti-theft features enabled by default on all devices, rather than relying on consumers to opt-in," said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon in a joint statement.

Email jscharr@techmedianetwork.com or follow her @JillScharr and Google+.  Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+

Discuss
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  • 1 Hide
    robert123_74 , April 16, 2014 12:20 PM
    1- Steal the phone
    2- Turn it off (and remove battery for Samsung phones)
    3- Place inside a Faraday cage (or put into airplane mode)
    4- Turn on phone and remove all data
    5- Wipe phone with software some hacker will create to get around kill switch and reactivation
    6- Resale or use as wanted

    In the end, I would argue that not having a kill switch is better because it forces people to think about what their actually putting on their phones, while this will simply create a false sense of security.
  • 0 Hide
    chumly , April 16, 2014 1:57 PM
    I don't think they are getting the point. I want a button that makes my phone sizzle and poof (small puff of smoke). Dead and can't be use at all anymore. Then no one has ANY reason to steal my phone.
  • 0 Hide
    hoofhearted , April 16, 2014 11:40 PM
    I just want a stealth GPS heartbeat, so I can go recover it myself. Especially for these $600+ Note and Galaxy phones. And what is with this still being able to use 911 even after a remote lock??? If said thief gets hurt, the last thing I want him to do is use my phone to get help.
  • 0 Hide
    jerrspud , April 17, 2014 7:30 AM
    Quote:
    1- Steal the phone
    2- Turn it off (and remove battery for Samsung phones)
    3- Place inside a Faraday cage (or put into airplane mode)
    4- Turn on phone and remove all data
    5- Wipe phone with software some hacker will create to get around kill switch and reactivation
    6- Resale or use as wanted

    In the end, I would argue that not having a kill switch is better because it forces people to think about what their actually putting on their phones, while this will simply create a false sense of security.

    It does say ""to the extent technologically feasible"... that's code for "this really won't do much is someone has advanced skills
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