San Francisco District Attorney asks Apple to enable Activation Lock by default

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San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón wants Apple to enable its anti-theft feature, Activation Lock, by default on all iPhones. Activation Lock was introduced in iOS 7, and makes your lost or stolen iPhone useless until your Apple ID password is entered.

Gascón makes this demand based on a survey of over 300 people, which found that 84 percent of iPhone owners running iOS 7 have Activation Lock enabled. From CNET:

“Apple should be commended for leading the way and making efforts to safeguard their customers, but it is still too early to tell how effective their solution will be,” Gascon said in a statement. “Until Activation Lock is fully opt-out, it appears many iPhone owners will not have the solution enabled. This leaves iPhone users at risk as thieves cannot distinguish between those devices that have the feature enabled and those that do not.”

313 people took part in Gascón’s survey between November 4 and November 19. 90 percent of respondents owned an iPhone, and 84 percent of them had Activation Lock enabled. The feature is a part of Find my iPhone, and is enabled automatically if you have Find my iPhone enabled under Settings > iCloud > Find my iPhone. But Find my iPhone itself has to be enabled manually when you set up a new iPhone.

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Gascón’s survey is a part of a renewed push to add a “kill switch” feature to all smartphones to prevent rampant smartphone theft in cities like San Francisco and New York. As per Gascón, carriers should have the ability to send a message to stolen smartphones to make them inoperable, but carriers aren’t too eager to implement this citing privacy concerns.

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