The first US state to make it illegal to sell a smartphone without the inclusion of a “kill switch” is Minnesota. The kill switch is a piece of software that remotely disables the device if the device is stolen.
This new law will come into place from 1 July 2015. It is aimed as a deterrent against smartphone crime. The FCC has suggested that one in three robberies in the US involves high-value devices such as smartphones.
Joe Atkins, democratic representative, described the law as a “vaccine” against smartphone theft. He said, “When you take away the worth, you take away the incentive. These thieves that are stealing these things no longer have the incentive to steal ’em.”
Suggestions to make kill switches mandatory in the UK have also been suggested. In fact London mayor, Boris Johnson has informed phone manufacturers, only last year, that they need to be embrace their “corporate responsibility”. The Mayor also criticized Apple and other retailers for exchanging ‘broken’ handsets for new ones. He claimed this allowed thieves to successfully launder stolen property. Estimates from the Metropolitan police department say as many as 10,000 smartphones are stolen every month in the capital.
Smartphone manufacturers do have a ‘kill switch’ of sorts anyway. Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’ app and Google’s ‘Android Device Manager’ will allow the handsets’ owner to remotely track their device and then wipe all data. The flaw is that, these apps do not work if the thief quickly performs a factory reset or they set the device to airplane mode. Additional software is available though, which means the smartphone requires a password or PIN code, even in the event of a factory reset.
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[Image via tomsguide]