Under the measure, smartphone manufacturers agree to provide tools to remotely disable devices. Customers with a lost or stolen phone would be able to:
- Remote wipe the the user data that is stored on the phone
- Disable the smartphone so it cannot be used without a password or PIN, except for 911 emergency use
- Prevent reactivation or a factory reset without the original owner’s permission
- Unlock the smartphone if is recovered by the original user and restore data if possible
This announcement follows an earlier call by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon for handset makers to implement measures that would make it difficult for a thief to resell a stolen phone. Though the two officials applauded the move, they criticized it for not being extensive enough.
“While CTIA’s decision to respond to our 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,” the statement said.
The CTIA and wireless carriers have opposed the kill switch measures proposed by the attorney generals, noting that they don’t curb theft and put a phone at risk of being remotely disabled by a malicious hacker.
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