US law enforcement officials are asking mobile handset developers to implement remote killswitch features in an effort to curb street crime.
The Save Our Smartphones initiative will seek to bring law enforcement groups and government officials together with handset vendors on ways to reduce the number of smartphone thefts and sales of stolen hardware in the US.
Among the measures being considered is the implementation of a killswitch functionality. The feature would allow a smartphone to be permanently disabled in the event that it is lost or stolen. In doing so, officials believe that the market for stolen handsets will dry up.
The group has sent letters to Apple, Motorola, Google, Microsoft and Samsung asking for the additional security tools.
New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman said: “The epidemic of violent street crime involving the theft and resale of mobile devices is a very real and growing threat in communities all across America. According to reports, roughly 113 smartphones are stolen or lost each minute in the United States, with too many of those thefts turning violent.”
As the popularity of smartphones has grown, so have the means of managing lost and stolen devices. Most platforms now ship with features to remotely track and monitor lost handsets, while Apple recently took things a step further when it introduced Activation Lock, a feature that requires an Apple ID and password to take the handset out of recovery.
The officials behind the Save Our Smartphones initiative would like to see other vendors follow suit and offer protections that would render stolen handsets useless for resale or redistribution.