Google And Microsoft Will Add ‘Kill Switches’ To New Smartphones

Lauren Eissler Contributor
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Apple introduced a kill switch in iOS 7 so users can remotely lock and delete data off their stolen devices.

After introducing this kill switch, iPhone thefts have dropped and now, about a year later, Google and Microsoft will be following Apple’s lead, as announced Thursday by U.S. law enforcement officials, PCWorld reports.

While iPhone theft dropped in New York, San Francisco and London, robberies of Samsung devices increased in all three. iPhone robberies dropped by 38 percent in San Francisco and 24 percent in London in the six months after iOS7 debuted.

“These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, that a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon told IDG News Service.

Gascon worked with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to get kill switches added to smartphones, as Apple has done.

And currently, bills mandating settings for users to remotely lock and delete data from their stolen phone are working their way through state legislatures and the U.S. Congress. This setting would be on when the user purchases the phone, but the owner can turn it off. (RELATED: Feds Use Cellphone ‘Kill Switch’ As Excuse For Warrantless Phone Searching)

Gascon and Schneiderman say that if all phones have kill switches, fewer would be stolen because the phones would be less likely to be useful. Data being released on Thursday seems to confirm that kill switches are “an effective part of a multi-layered approach to combatting smartphone crimes,” they said.

“We must ensure these solutions are deployed in a more effective manner that does not rely on consumers to seek them out an [sic] turn them on,” Gascon said, “but the fact that virtually the entire industry has responded to our call to action is an indication that we are well on our way to ending this public safety crisis.”

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