Geeks and Nerds Stuff

Why The Smartphone Kill Switch Is Needed Now

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Kudos to the state of California and its lawmakers for the first step in passing a bill that would require mobile device manufacturers to build remote cutoffs into the hardware so a phone can be disabled if lost or stolen, basically a smartphone kill switch.  It took a couple of times for the California Senate to pass this bill, but they have now passed it, and it needs to pass the California House and needs the signature from the California governor to become law.  If you have watched the news lately, you have seen videos of thieves stealing smartphones from several people.  And sadly, some people have been killed or severely injured when someone tried to steal their smartphone.

Smartphone thefts have shot up tremendously over the past few years.  According to the Federal Communications Commission, about one third of robberies in major cities across the country involve the theft of a mobile phone, and in 2012, lost or stolen mobile phones costed us consumers around $30 billion dollars, yes, $30 billion!  For years, many lawmakers in states and federal governments have called for a smartphone kill switch to be included in all new phones being sold, but there was a problem.  Cell phone companies have resisted the technology even though the cell phone manufacturers have tried to include a kill switch, and the reason why the companies have resisted the kill switch, is because of money greed, and this is from an interesting Wired article you should read!

Cell phone companies have always offered a cell phone insurance plan to cover a broken or lost phone, which means extra income!  Plus, the stolen phones end up on the secondary market, which means more subscribers, and more money for cell phone companies.  But now, because of pressure from governments and families of people who were injured or killed because of cell phone thefts, most cell phone companies and manufacturers have now signed on to include a smartphone kill switch.  And after July 2015, mostly all new phones will have a kill switch that allows users to wipe their phones clean of everything if their phone is stolen, remotely!

With the California smartphone kill switch bill on it’s way to becoming law hopefully, other states have bills to propose something similar.  The smartphone kill switch would be software that allows the owner of the phone to lock down the phone after the device has been reported stolen and reactivate it only with the correct password or personal identification number.  And yes, if smartphones, which mostly everyone has now, had a smartphone kill switch, it would discourage criminals from stealing smartphones since they would become unusable and difficult to sell on the black market.  And that means, no more videos showing criminals stealing smartphones.

Some people are worried about a smartphone kill switch.  These people say they are worried about hackers figuring out how to trigger the kill switch and basically turning a massive amount of phones into useless bricks.  Others are worried that a smartphone kill switch would mean the police or government would have a way to turn all phones off if civil unrest happened, which can never happen.  If these people are worried that hackers, police, or the government can remotely turn off their phones, consumers will be able to opt out and deactivate the technology.  So there is nothing to worry about there!

Yes, things like a stolen phone database have formed to try to stop smartphone thefts.  But it is not working and crime has skyrocketed!  The only way we are going to stop most smartphone thefts is to install smartphone kill switch technology.  If we had kill switch technology already, some people killed would be alive today, it’s that simple!

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