60-Second Tech

Mobile Device Thieves Face Off against Kill Switch

California wants to be the first state to mandate antitheft features on mobile devices, but carriers fear lost insurance revenue. Larry Greenemeier reports

Mobile device thefts account for about one third of all robberies in the U.S., according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Many smartphones already include antitheft features. Apple’s latest iOS comes with Activation Lock, which lets iPhone users disable a lost device and then, if it’s recovered, reactivate it via its original username and password.
Samsung's Galaxy S4 Android phone comes with a preinstalled LoJack app for tracking the device if it’s lifted.
California lawmakers want to take this protection further, making theirs the first state to require certain mobile devices be sold with “kill switches” or other theft protection. These safeguards would prevent stolen devices from operating on any network worldwide.
But device makers don’t liking being told what to build into their electronics. And carriers are worried people won’t pay extra to insure phones that have good security features.
Regardless of what happens in California, you can’t legislate common sense: stow that gadget away when there’s a chance it’ll be robbed.

—Larry Greenemeier

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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