Tech Giants Support CTIA Handset Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment

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By Judith Aparri | April 17, 2014 12:56 PM EST

Apple, Google, Microsoft and other OEMs have expressed their commitment and support to a U.S. wireless industry Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) who initiated voluntary program which looks at integrating anti-theft tech into smartphones by July 2015.

The tech giants signed on to "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment" to bring to mobile devices a feature that would shoo away thieves. Carriers showed commitment and support in this endeavor.

The program means all smartphones which will be sold by the signees after July 2015 will include the following features without additional cost:

  • Wipe out the authorized user's data remotely if it is stolen or lost. Data include personal info after purchase like emails, photos and contacts.
  • Make the device inoperable to an unauthorized user, such as locking the device so it cannot operate without the PIN or password, except for 911 or emergency communications as per FCC rules. Inoperability should be restored from the cloud, for example, if smartphone is recovered by the authorized user.
  • Prevent reactivation without the permission of the authorized user, including attempts to factory reset.

CTIA announced the plan on April 15 as an initiative to put a stop on smartphone theft in the U.S. Other supporters backing up the program are the top five U.S. wireless carriers, HTC, Huawei, Motorola and Nokia.

President and CEO Steve Largent of CTIA said they appreciate the commitment of the tech giants to protect the wireless users in the event they lost their smartphones. Cooperation with law enforcers, policy makers and consumers will deter the thieves and protect the personal data of the users on their smartphones.

Apple already has this feature with its Find My iPhone and Activation Lock in iOS 7. This feature allows the users to locate, lock and erase stolen or lost iPhones while Activation Lock requires an Apple ID and password before turning Find My iPhone off.

Google Android also has free anti-theft apps in Google Play such as Prey and Comodo Anti-Theft (CAT).

Such features are big deals as they would dent the number of stolen smartphones annually.

Both Apple and Google are already providing the service and encourage authorized users to enable and actively use the security tools.

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