Smartphones have become a necessity nowadays. We all carry sensitive data on our smartphone so what if your smartphone gets stolen or you somehow manage to lose it? Can you imagine how this could affect you? The idea itself is terrifying and that is why the big players in the mobile world are pledging to make ‘kill switch’ a standard in phones by 2015.
The kill switch is a system capable of remotely disabling your smartphone wiping it clean of any data present on it. Microsoft, Apple, Google and Samsung along with the five biggest cellular carriers have voluntarily signed on a program, which was announced by the trade group that is leading the industry; CTIA – The Wireless Association.
Those who are in favour of this program support the idea by arguments that refer towards the theft of smartphones or people losing their smartphones. In both cases; the top most priority is to protect the sensitive information and to render the smartphone useless to deter thieves from stealing smartphones. Even law personals are worried about how the trend of smartphone theft is increasing. Steve Largent, CEO and President of CTIA says; ‘We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen. This flexibility provides consumers with access to the best features and apps that fit their unique needs while protecting their smartphones and the valuable information they contain.’
This feature will enable a phone owner to take control of the phone and erase all contacts, emails, photos and any other information present on the phone wirelessly while locking the smartphone so that it cannot be unlocked without a password. The feature will come free of cost and will not allow the phone to be reactivated without the original owner’s consent. If the owner recovers the phone then the data and information can be retrieved without any difficulty. Although some mobile companies already allow for such actions to be taken but declaring it a standard will obviously improve things a lot.
Industry representatives say that they have been afraid of the hackers exploiting this kill switch option whereas critics have blamed the industry that it doesn’t want to let go of the revenue which it earns when people replace smartphones after they have been stolen. A mandatory switch kill bill might be passed by state legislature in Minnesota by next week. According to Bruce Starr, Oregon State Senator and President of the National Conference of State Legislatures said that his group ‘applauds today’s announcement unveiling the wireless industry’s commitment to reduce the number of smartphone thefts each year by providing anti-theft tools on future devices. This voluntary effort serves as another positive illustration of the wireless industry adapting to address consumer needs through self-regulation.’ Another Senator from California, Mark Leno, said; ‘The wireless industry today has taken an incremental yet inadequate step to address the epidemic of smartphone theft. Only weeks ago, they claimed that the approach they are taking today was infeasible and counterproductive.’
“The wireless industry today has taken an incremental yet inadequate step to address the epidemic of smartphone theft,” said California State Sen. Mark Leno, who represents parts of San Francisco, in a statement. “Only weeks ago, they claimed that the approach they are taking today was infeasible and counterproductive.”He further said ; ‘While I am encouraged they are moving off of that position so quickly, today’s ‘opt-in’ proposal misses the mark if the ultimate goal is to combat street crime and violent thefts involving smartphones and tablets.’
We believe this is a crucial advancement and will prove really useful to decrease smartphone related crime