“Kill switches,” which allow users to turn off their phones remotely after having them stolen has dramatically decreased smartphone’s theft. According to an announcement, in 2014 the total number of stolen smartphones dropped by 50% in London, by 27% in San Francisco and by 16% in New York.
In 2013 alone, after Apple first introduced this feature, the iPhone thefts decreased by 40% in San Francisco and by 25% in New York. In 2014, Samsung introduced the “kill switch” to a few of its smartphones as well. Moreover Google also added a “kill switch” to its newest Android operating system, Lollipop. As far as Microsoft is concerned, the company has granted to add a “kill switch” to its smartphone models by July 2015.
London Mayor Boris Johnson, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon along with New York state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are among the officials who argued for new laws that mandated the kill switches:
“The wireless industry continues to roll out sophisticated new features, but preventing their own customers from being the target of a violent crime is the coolest technology they can bring to market,”
Following Apple’s “kill switch” measure, Gascon, Johnson and Schneiderman all called on other manufacturers so as to make the technology active by default. Some smartphone systems still require consumers to opt in. In other words not all are protected while their phones are operating in the default mode.
According to reports from the National Consumers League, handheld devices had been stolen from 1.6 million Americans in 2012. Particularly in California, smartphone theft represents more than half of all crimes in San Francisco, Oakland, as well as other cities.
Moreover some other states are also experiencing a rash of smartphone thefts which led them to considering similar measures. For instance Minnesota passed a theft-prevention law last year.
At first, the cellular industry was reluctant towards these safety efforts, but later they changed their position. This means that most U.S. carriers are beginning to become more proactive as far as sharing data on stolen phones is concerned, preventing them from being activated on networks throughout the U.S. and abroad, albeit they don’t contain a “kill switch.”