State prosecutors to meet industry reps over smartphone "kill switches"

On May 13, we reported that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was calling on Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung to help reduce smartphone theft. Such an issue has been growing, and subsequently resulting in increased crime statistics. Next week, Schneiderman and San Francisco's District Attorney George Gascon plan to meet with industry reps to push the issue.

The goal is to have phone makers install what is being called a "kill switch" that will allow a phone that has been stolen to be disabled. Such a petition is going to be made – in person this time – to representatives from the aforementioned companies, with the meeting taking place in New York on June 13. Says the District Attorneys, such technology is essential.

DA Gascon said on the matter: "With 1.6 million Americans falling victim to smartphone theft in 2012, this has become a national epidemic. Unlike other types of crimes, smartphone theft can be eradicated with a simple technological solution." Schneiderman had similar comments, adding that smartphone theft is beginning to take a violent turn.

Putting it in perspective, San Francisco sees a huge number of smartphone thefts, with 50-percent of its reported robberies in 2012 involving a smartphone. Research done in the matter then showed that about $30 billion in losses resulted from the theft and loss of smartphones last year alone. The number has continued to rise.

Whether the companies will respond positively to such requests is yet to be seen; none of them responded to comment requests about the matter when approached. The hope is that by installing kill switches to disable smartphones, the incentive to steal them will disappear and crime – and the growing violence – will drop as a result.

SOURCE: Reuters