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Smartphones to come preloaded with anti-theft tech from next year

Smartphone makers, carriers pledge to implement anti-theft measures.

By CBR Staff Writer

Major US wireless carriers and smartphone manufacturers have committed to incorporate new anti-theft technology on devices on sale from next year, in response to pressure on telecoms industry to implement measures to halt device theft.

CTIA-The Wireless Association’s latest ‘Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment’ was supported by Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung in addition to five major US carriers.

As part of the commitment, all smartphones built by the agreed firms after July 2015 would be preloaded with free anti-theft tools or will be ready for download.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in a joint statement that while CTIA’s decision to respond to call for action by announcing a new voluntary commitment to make theft-deterrent features available on smartphones is a welcome step forward, it falls short of what is needed to effectively end the epidemic of smartphone theft.

"We strongly urge CTIA and its members to make their anti-theft features enabled by default on all devices, rather than relying on consumers to opt-in," they added.

"The industry also has a responsibility to protect its consumers now and not wait until next year.

"Every week that passes means more people are victimized in street crimes that often turn violent, and more families will have to endure the needless loss of a loved one."

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As per the commitment, future smartphones have to feature software that allow an authorised user to erase the data stored on a smartphone, in case of being lost or stolen; deactivate the device so that it cannot be used without a PIN or password; thwart reactivation without the owner’s consent; and overturn the inoperability if the device is recovered by original user.

"The epidemic of smartphone theft is a global problem that requires a global solution, these protections should not be limited to consumers here in the United States," Schneiderman and Gascon added.

"Today’s announcement is an important acknowledgment by the smartphone industry that technology to deter theft is not only feasible, but also practical.

"Accordingly, our work must continue until the standard is that these solutions are enabled by default."

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