South Korean company Samsung Electronics, the world’s number one smartphone manufacturer, has proposed the installation of an anti-theft measure which would allow lost or stolen phones to be instantly deactivated. Whilst this wireless “kill switch” might sound like a great idea to users, the largest carriers in the nation are set against the idea.
According to San Francisco’s District Attorney General George Gascon, the proposal was rejected by wireless carriers such as T-Mobile, Sprint Corp, Verizon Wireless and AT&T. The deactivation button, known as “Absolute LoJack” was intended to before a standard software feature in Samsung’s phones, which has been demanded by lawmakers for several years.
The Federal Communications Commission has said that almost a third of all robberies in the US involve phone theft in some way; these stolen phones cost consumers over $30 billion in 2012 alone. If this is accurate, why shouldn’t carriers want people to deactivate their phones across a wireless network to prevent them being used by thieved and destroy potentially sensitive data? Emails between a Samsung executive and a software developer were reviewed by prosecutors to shed some light on the case and why wireless providers are so set against it.
“The emails suggest that the carriers are rejecting a technological solution so they can continue to shake down their customers for billions of dollars in (theft) insurance premiums,” Gascon said.