Mobile manufacturers, carriers to provide kill switches

Tools

Mobile phone makers and service providers have agreed to add optional kill switch features to smartphones manufactured after July 2015.

The move comes in response to pressure from consumer groups and law enforcement officials, who have been concerned about the security threat posed by smartphones and mobile devices that are lost or stolen. FierceMobileIT has covered the topic over the past few months, especially the effort in the State of California to mandate kill switches.

So-called kill switches allow users to disable their device in the event it is lost or stolen, so that an unauthorized person can't access data on the device. According to an article at Wall Street and Tech, all smartphones manufactured after that date will now have a baseline anti-theft tool which is either preloaded on the device or can be downloaded by the user.

CTIA-The Wireless Association, a wireless communications trade group, said all mobile carriers will support the availability and use of this tool, the article noted. This is a voluntary agreement, the group said. Mandatory kill switches reportedly have strong public support.

The adoption of kill switches in mobile phones could save consumers $2.6 billion annually, according to new research from Creighton University Heider College of Business professor and consumer advocate William Duckworth. In a survey of 1,200 smartphone owners, Duckworth studied consumer sentiment for kill switches, consumer habits regarding cell phone insurance and the links between the two, and posted his findings to the university website.

Mandatory mobile phone kill switches had recently been proposed in California. Duckworth said he expected strong support in other states as well.

According to his research:

  • 99 percent of smartphone owners believe wireless carriers should give all consumers the option to disable a mobile phone if stolen
  • 93 percent of smartphone owners believe Americans should not be expected to pay extra fees for the ability to disable a stolen phone
  • 83 percent of smartphone owners believe that a kill switch feature would reduce mobile phone theft

California lawmakers have not yet had time to react to the announcement on the voluntary agreement among mobile carriers.

For more:
- check out the Wall Street and Tech article
- read the FierceMobileIT article

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