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SF & NY Prosecutors Suggest Smartphone “Kill Switch”

by Jacob Kleinman | June 13, 2013June 13, 2013 11:00 pm PDT

WWDC 2013 - iOS 7 - Activation Lock - 025

U.S. prosecutors from San Francisco and New York City announced a plan today to stop smartphone thefts with a coalition of prosecutors, police, smartphone companies and other officials. The announcement was made on the same day San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are scheduled to host a Smartphone Summit with representatives from Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft attending.

At the top of a list of requests Gascon and Schneiderman put forward is the idea of a smartphone “kill switch” that would be implemented across the industry. If a device is stolen the switch could be activated remotely, rendering the smartphone useless and effectively drying up the black market of stolen handsets. Several firms already allow users to remotely kill their smartphones, but this could make it a requirement.

At WWDC 2013, Apple promised that the new iOS 7 iPhone software would offer a similar security feature, which Gascon and Schneiderman appear interested to learn more about. According to the Federal Communications Commission, about one in three robberies currently involves a mobile device, while in New York, police use the phrase “Apple picking” as shorthand for the regular theft of iDevices.


Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...