The law is often behind when it comes to technology. But this time they are trying to take care of a growing problem quickly, by pushing developers to install a ‘kill switch’ that would render stolen smartphones useless.
Because of their high price tag and resale value, smartphones are a hot item for thieves. Many of us walk around with our phones out all the time, not paying attention to our surroundings. This makes us easy targets for those looking to steal a smartphone, further exacerbating an already serious problem.
The Secure Our Smartphones Initiative (S.O.S) is a consumer group that has teamed up with law enforcement agencies around the country for this cause. It’s goal is to get the mobile phone industry to install these kill switches, and pay for it themselves.
“The industry has a moral and social obligation to fix this problem,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, one of the main forces behind the initiative, said.
Concerns have been raised by cell phone manufacturers that this would impede the choices of the consumer. But S.O.S denies this, as the whole point behind the kill switch is that the original owner of the device would have control over whether or not it was activated. Not law enforcement, who would merely offer the kill switch as an option when a case of theft was reported.
I think it is pretty funny hearing these businesses talk about ‘consumer choice’ as a reason to fight against this security measure. They try to take away that same choice all the time. Just look at Apple and their constant battle against jailbreaking, or Microsoft, with their strike against used games. Are we really supposed to believe that this is the line they draw?
In any case, the technology itself is feasible, though it could potentially be costly. Likely the real reason behind the dissent.
The need for the kill switch is very real, however. According to current statistic released through S.O.S, 1.6 million smartphones were stolen last year in the U.S. alone, and one in every three robberies will include a mobile device. A number of these thefts became violent, and people have been killed for their iPhones.
Just earlier this year, a friend of mine had his iPhone stolen out of his hand in San Diego. Using the GPS tracking through an app that could be accessed on his PC, he went to the guy’s house and threatened to call the cops. He got his phone back, but he took a huge risk. It would have been much better if he could have bricked the phone.
Source: CNN Money