Stealing phones is, thankfully, an increasingly pointless practice, but officials in the US aren’t happy with the procedures put in place at present; essentially they want to eradicate phone theft, which accounts for more than 30% of robberies in major cities.
Said officials will no doubt welcome the news that Android and “Nokia” (er, that’ll be Windows Phone) will introduce remote “kill switch” functionality – baked into the operating systems.
Google says it’ll add a “factory reset protection solution” in the next version of Android, which might well be detailed at Google I/O 2014 next week.
Meanwhile, Microsoft’s Vice President for US Government Affairs, Fred Humphries, says Windows Phone will receive similar functionality in a future update.
In this blog post, Humphries says Find My Phone will be extended to include functionality to a) remotely erase data, b) render the smartphone inoperable (with the exception of 911 calls), c) prevent reactivation by anyone other than the authorised user, and d) reverse inoperability and restore data via the cloud - in the event that the phone is recovered by its owner.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has previously described the problem as an “epidemic”, and added this week: “Today, the smartphone industry acknowledges that its wonderful products have been driving an international crime wave. That change in attitude has opened the door to great possibilities.” I love this guy.
Meanwhile, on the opposite coast, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon welcomes the notion of the “kill switch” being included and activated by default, suggesting that, at present, “you have to go on a scavenger hunt and figure out how to turn the technology on.”
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler concurs, calling for “an automatic, common solution.”
Sounds like they’ll get their collective wish before long.