iPhone 5 and GALAXY S 4 anti-theft technology put to test

The government has called on handset makers to implement technology that will potentially reduce the instances of smartphone thefts, which are increasingly on the rise. Several makers were sent an open letter months ago by New York Attorney General Schneiderman, as well as District Attorney George Gascón of San Francisco, criticizing them for not taking a more proactive approach to the issue.

Now two of those companies – Apple and Samsung – are having their anti-theft technology put to the test at a meeting under the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S) Initiative. The devices being tested are Apple's iPhone 5 and its Activation Lock, and Samsung's GALAXY S 4 and its Lojack for Android. The meeting was underway today in San Francisco.

Said the two in a statement: "While we are appreciative of the efforts made by Apple and Samsung to improve security of the devices they sell, we are not going to take them at their word. Today we will assess the solutions they are proposing and see if they stand up to the tactics commonly employed by thieves. Together, we are working to ensure that the industry embeds persistent technology that is effective, ubiquitous and free to consumers in every smartphone introduced to the market by next year."

The meeting includes reps from the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, more commonly known as NCRIC, according to the statement. Under the test, the smartphones in question will be "treated" like they were stolen, presumably with the security features being utilized to demonstrate what the result would be. There's no word yet on whether either of them satisfied the state and federal ambitions for the technology.

Although California and New York are being most vocal about the move, the S.O.S Initiative is a national coalition that is enjoying participation from public safety activists, various DAs and AGs, city comptrollers, law enforcement, and consumer advocates. All of this follows the launch of a stolen cell phone database that went live in the US in October 2012.