Fewer Handsets 'Being Stolen' Due to Kill Switch App

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By Naveena Joy | June 20, 2014 4:39 PM EST

Several cases of stolen smartphones have been reported until the previous year. The number has decreased eventually, particularly in major cities like New York, San Francisco and London.

Business Insider reported the major reason behind this decline could be the kill switch applications, enabling handsets' authorized users to vaguely deactivate their devices so that they become useless.

With Apple's "Activation Lock," a skill switch app available on all iPhones running iOS 7 saw a massive drop in theft of Apple products. In the first five months of 2014, theft involving Apple devices crashed down in New York as compared to the same period in 2013.

It was also reported 38 percent decrease and 24 percent decrease were seen in San Francisco and London, respectively.

Similarly, Samsung has also complained of theft until it introduced a kill switch feature called "Reactivation Lock" on its Verizon Wireless devices in April. After a year-long push, Microsoft and Google have confirmed to integrate versions of kill switches into their future products.  

George Gascon, district lawyer of San Francisco said, "These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, which a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere."

Gascon, New York State Attorney General Eric Scheiderman and London Mayor Boris Johnson have been leading all the mobile industry stakeholders in pushing them to include kill switch apps in their products to restrain phone theft.

Initially, only Apple supported the group in bringing in such an app but other carriers and phone manufacturers stepped back.  But the state legislatures and the U.S. Congress passed several bills, saying it is mandatory to integrate kill switches.

The bills demand a utility that would allow the actual phone user to remotely lock and delete the phone if stolen. If desired, the user can disable the function before it is stolen but generally the future devices will be supplied with a built-in kill switches which will be switched on by default.

Schneiderman in an interview with New York Times says, "The introduction of kill switches has clearly had an effect on the conduct of smartphone thieves. If these can be canceled like the equivalent of canceling a credit card, these are going to be the equivalent of stealing a paperweight."

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