Smartphone theft and muggings have reached an all time high, costing customers more than $30 billion last year and causing law enforcers to derisively refer to the wave, at least as it relates to iPhones and iPads, as "Apple picking". Samsung offered a rather drastic proposal to help improve the situation but was shot down by major wireless carriers in the US.

Samsung's solution isn't actually a direct solution but more of a deterrent to the crime. Utilizing a software called Absolute LoJack, carriers or any competent authority can remotely send a "kill switch" command that will render the smartphone useless. The presence of such a feature could, in effect, lessen the resale value of devices, which is considered one of if not the major incentive for smartphone theft. Samsung claims that it already had the feature installed on smartphones but were ordered by carriers to strip it out before the devices shipped.

US carriers, including AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, saw problems in Samsung's solution. In particular, they say that the feature could actually become more of a liability, giving malicious individuals ways to remotely disable a device without the user's knowledge or consent. That, of course, is always a possibility, but it seems there is more to it that meets the eye, at least based on email exchanges between the parties involved. According to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, the correspondence suggests that the ulterior motive for the carriers' veto is to be able to continue collecting theft insurance premiums from customers.

While Gascon believes that Samsung's proposal has the potential to help reduce smartphone theft, there are, in the meantime, less drastic measures that Android users can take in case of a lost or stolen smartphone. Users can track down and, if needed, remotely lock down or even wipe their device via the Android Device Manager or CyanogenMod's new CM Account feature.

VIA: SlashGear

  • bigdawgx

    Ok, so if someone steals a phone and the kill switch is triggered. How does that get the phone back for a customer???? It doesn’t!!!! So, people will still need insurance to get a new phone, regardless of the kill switch. And if the phone is essentially useless, that for sure means a new one needs to be purchased from the manufacturers since the blackmarket for such phones will get crushed. Clearly, the carriers are not on the side of consumers, and are not thinking logically despite their greed for more money.

  • Am I the only one who sees this as anti-competitive? Apple has their Activation Lock, why cant Samsung have theirs? Did I miss that part?