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Can a 'kill switch' cut the rate of smartphone theft?

Can a 'kill switch' cut the rate of smartphone theft?

There are so many things technology does to make our lives better. There's also some things technology could do to make our lives better, but for some reason doesn't.

Here's an interesting current example. Did you know that, even as crime overall in the U.S. has been dropping over the last 10 or 15 years, smartphone theft has reached epidemic proportions?

It's not surprising. Those things can cost $600 and are easy to swipe, conceal and transport. (They are also worth a lot of money overseas.) The theft numbers are amazing. The FCC in 2012 released a survey of smartphone theft. Among the stats: Forty percent of the robberies in New York City involved smartphones. And many thieves, of course, are after something more valuable than the phone – your personal information, access to your banking and email, and other deviousness.

So: What are we going to do about it? That's the question some consumers have been asking for years, and it seems as if there's a simple solution: Adding a feature to allow owners to render a stolen device useless via a blocking device – the so-called "kill switch."

Lawmakers in California, spurred by the state attorney general, have been considering a mandatory kill switch bill. That proposal caught the attention of the industry; California is such a big market it would make a de facto national standard. In the meantime, a group of senators in Washington, D.C., have proposed a similar bill, the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, proposed earlier this month.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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