Are there legitimate reasons to oppose smartphone kill switches?

tswayne

There have been efforts by consumer groups to have “kill switches” built into smartphones so that if the devices are lost or stolen, the kill switch can be remotely activated, making them useless and preventing theft of data. This would remove much of the incentive for theft of devices, and would seem to be a good idea. Nevertheless, carriers have universally opposed requirements for a kill switch, and as far as I know none have agreed to it voluntarily. Do the carriers have legitimate reasons for opposing kill switches?

Answer this Question

Answers

3 total
jimlynch
Vote Up (10)

Doesn't Apple already do something like this in the iPhone? I seem to remember reading about it a while back.

The only problem with kill switches is that some thieves may not understand that they exist. Let's face it, a lot of these criminals aren't very bright so the kill switch is not a deterrent to them if they aren't aware of it or if they just don't care.

jackson
Vote Up (10)

Sure they have a “legitimate” reason - profits. In the US replacement of lost and stolen cell phones costs $30 billion a year with insurance adding another $7.8 billion in carrier profits (source  - SFGate). After all, if someone steals your $500 device what are you going to do? That’s right - pay for another one. It’s estimated that the majority of robberies in some cities is now smartphone theft. Not only is that a huge amount of financial loss in aggregate, it also means that there are many opportunities for the victim to be injured. This is something I have personally experience, when I interrupted a guy beating an old man with a baseball bat to steal his phone. This old guy ended up with a fractured skull and a severed temporal artery because some thug wanted to steal his phone. If there was a kill switch to make the device useless, it would remove much of the incentive for these sort of crimes.

 

To be fair, the official reason given by CITA, the trade association for opposing kill switches, is that it might make them more vulnerable to hacking. I’d like to see some proof of that, and I'm not sure it outweighs the benefits of a kill switch even if true. 

cuetip
Vote Up (8)

A bill titled the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act was just introduced in the US Senate. If enacted, this would create a Federal Law to mandate the inclusion of “kill switches” in smartphones. However, since it imposes regulation on a business, it is almost certainly going to be filibustered in the Senate, and if it is passed by the Senate, will be unlikely to even be scheduled for a vote by the GOP controlled House. If you have any interest in this issue, you could call your congressman and senators to let them know that it is important to you.

Ask a question

Join Now or Sign In to ask a question.
Facebook is testing a way to let users of its mobile app search for posts shared with them in the past.
Samsung has partnered with Nokia to bring navigation service Here to its new smartwatch and Galaxy Android phones.
Thanks to the cloud, the “as a service” trend is getting a little out of control
Baidu and Tencent are teaming up with a Chinese shopping mall operator in a joint venture that could steal business away from local e-commerce giant Alibaba Group.
It seems like poaching drivers is par for the course in the ride-sharing industry.
Is it crazy to pay $1300 for a Chromebook? Some reflections after a year and a half of living with Google's luxurious Pixel.
Microsoft has consolidated the consumer and enterprise editions of OneDrive under a single Android app, a move it plans to replicate across all the platforms that the cloud storage service runs on.
The EU is investing in IT to help it and its citizens protect themselves from floods.
While SAP has made a big push into mobile software and device management with the acquisition of Sybase and a series of apps, it hasn't made overt moves into the devices market. But this could change down the road, judging from a recently published patent application submitted by SAP.
Apple rumors continue to fly. This time it's the device we're unofficially calling the iWatch, and it'll be here next month, sources say.
randomness