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USA Groups Campaign for Phones to Have a Kill Switch to Deter Thefts

A campaign has been set up in the USA to encourage the mobile phone industry to adopt technologies that would deter theft by drying up the secondary market on which stolen devices are sold.

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón jointly launched the campaign at a meeting with mobile phone manufacturers.

As part of the initiative, they are nvestigating the capability for manufacturers to develop technology that would deter theft, including a “kill switch” that would enable stolen devices to be permanently disabled, therefore eliminating the economic incentives for would-be thieves.

Co-chaired by Schneiderman and Gascón, the S.O.S. Initiative is a coalition of state Attorneys General, District Attorneys, major city Police Chiefs, state and city Comptrollers, public safety activists and consumer advocates from around the country.

“The epidemic of violent street crime involving the theft and resale of mobile devices is a very real and growing threat in communities all across America,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “According to reports, roughly 113 smartphones are stolen or lost each minute in the United States, with too many of those thefts turning violent. This nationwide coalition of leaders is committed to doing everything in our power to encourage industry to be good corporate citizens and take responsible steps to ensure the safety of our consumers.”

New York State Comptroller DiNapoli wrote to the Chief Executive Officers of Apple, Google/Motorola, Microsoft, and Samsung asking them what steps each company is taking “to protect its brand and assure public officials that it is acting responsibly.”

As the trustee of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, DiNapoli urged each company to position itself “as a leader in working with law enforcement agencies and government officials to pursue a meaningful solution to this ongoing problem. Such action would send a reassuring message to shareholders and consumers alike.”

According to Consumer Reports, the theft of cell phones makes up 30 to 40 percent of all robberies nationwide. In 2012, 1.6 million Americans were victimized for their smartphones. A Harris poll of phone owners found that nearly 10% said their phone had been stolen at one point, and a recent study found that lost and stolen cell phones cost consumers over $30 billion last year

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