Why have major US cellular carriers rejected Samsung‘s kill-switch anti-theft measure that could help lessen the incidents of smartphone thefts in the country? This is the question that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has put before five US carriers, including AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
Samsung’s proposal basically consisted of a way via software to practically render a stolen device useless. The rationale for this feature is to make it almost impossible to resell these stolen devices and thus lessen the incentive for theft. In a previous report, Samsung claimed that the feature was ready to ship on devices but was blocked by US carriers from pushing through with it.
And now the New York AG wants to know why, but already has a theory in mind and it’s not pretty. He believes that the carriers’ decision was colored by their business relationships and that they have knowingly and willingly put their own profits above that of the safety of their customers. In particular, he points out the carrier’s close ties with the insurance company Asurion and the CTIA Wireless Association, who has opposed the kill switch option from the get-go.
For its part, the CTIA hasn’t really taken the problem of smartphone theft sitting down. The group recently announced the completion of a comprehensive stolen phone database to similarly deter theft but in a less drastic way. Most of the carriers have not yet replied to Schneiderman’s letter, but Verizon has already said that it did not reject the kill switch measure and that it will support a free and secure Android kill switch app if and when manufacturers provide it.