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Apple, Samsung, Google, and several other companies agree to support smartphone "kill switch" next year

News by Andrew Kameka on Wednesday April 16, 2014.

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Several smartphone manufacturers and carriers in the United States have banded together to announce a program that will give consumers more options when their smartphone is lost or stolen. Among those options is the ability to remotely wipe all data from the phone and activating a special lock mode that makes the phone unusable unless it is recovered by its owner. The kill switch option has been pushed by members of the U.S. government and will be a feature of devices sold in the US, according to the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment.

The CTIA trade group representing the nation's carriers has announced plans to make sure that all smartphones manufactured after July 2015 will be able to:

1. Remote wipe all data on a phone if it is lost or stolen

2. Remote lock the phone, by password or PIN, so it is unable to do anything except call emergency numbers

3. Reactivate only when the owner enables it; even if someone other than the owner performs a factory reset, the phone will be unusable

4. Reactivate and restore wiped data from the cloud if the user manages to recover the device

Smartphone makers will be free to implement these tools however they see fit. There will be no uniform method but what matters is that their phones can meet the criteria laid out. Apple and Samsung already employ firmware-persistent anti-theft tools and have joined with the CTIA to support the anti-theft tool. The list of companies signed-on to participate in the voluntary program includes:

Apple, Asurion, AT&T, Google, HTC America, Huawei Device USA, Motorola Mobility, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung Telecommunications America, Sprint, T-Mobile US, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless.

source: CTIA

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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