US wireless carriers force Samsung to hit the kill switch

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A few laptop models on the market today feature a kill switch--a built-in device that erases or disables a portable device if it's lost or stolen. The smartphone market, however, has yet to see such a feature bundled into the firmware of a mobile device, even though some manufacturers are willing to do it.  

Some people say it's not the job of a handset manufacturer to build a kill switch into every device they make, but Samsung was ready to step up to the plate and do it anyway. Now U.S. wireless carriers say they'll refuse to sell handsets that come preloaded with the deactivation feature. It's a fairly frustrating move on the part of carriers but their reasons do more or less make sense.

Customers have a lot to gain by purchasing a phone that can be remotely wiped or deactivated if stolen. The carriers? Not so much. They contend they'll have to provide technical support and also deal with the hassle reactivations when a lost phone is found. As Gartner's Lawrence Pingree also rather candidly pointed out to BusinessWeek, "Carriers also profit from theft--for example, insurance premiums and activation charges."

Fortunately, Samsung is looking into other ways to make mobile devices more secure, though they decline say how. In the meantime, smartphone users will have to content themselves with third-party apps that get the job done and wait until the major carriers work out an arrangement they can all live with.

For more:
- read BusinessWeek's article

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