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Google and Microsoft plan to join Apple in offering theft-deterring “kill switches” in their smartphone operating systems, as part of an agreement with mayors and police agencies

Google, Microsoft to add smartphone ‘kill’ switches

Friday, June 20, 2014 – 21:46

AFP

WASHINGTON – Google and Microsoft plan to join Apple in offering theft-deterring “kill switches” in their smartphone operating systems, as part of an agreement with mayors and police agencies.

The announcement came in a report Thursday by the “Secure Our Smartphones Initiative” led by the New York state attorney general with officials from San Francisco and London.

The coalition of more than 100 elected leaders and law enforcement officials from major cities said the agreement means the three main smartphone platforms would soon add the feature as part of an effort to curb an epidemic of thefts.

The report said Google Android and Microsoft Windows Phone would add the feature – enabling a user to deactivate a stolen handset – after Apple included this last year.

Google confirmed the news Friday without providing a date for the new feature.

“Yes, the next version of Android will include a factory reset protection solution to help deter smartphone theft. We will be releasing more details shortly,” a spokesman told AFP in an email.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“The commitments of Google and Microsoft are giant steps toward consumer safety and the statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of kill switches,” said New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“In just one year, the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative has made tremendous strides towards curtailing the alarming trend of violent smartphone theft. We will continue the fight to ensure that companies put consumers’ safety first and work toward ending the epidemic of smartphone theft.” The report noted that preliminary data following Apple’s adoption of its “activation lock” feature found that in the first five months of 2014, theft of Apple devices fell by 17 per cent in New York, while thefts of Samsung products increased by 51 per cent from the same period in the previous year.

In the six months after Apple introduced the feature, iPhone thefts fell 24 per cent in London and robberies fell 38 per cent in San Francisco, while thefts of other popular mobile devices increased, the report said.

The report cited studies that showed 3.1 million mobile devices were stolen in 2013 – nearly double the levels of 2012, and one in three Europeans experienced the theft or loss of a mobile device last year.

In 2013, a mobile device played a role in roughly half of all robberies in New York City, San Francisco and London, the report said.

“We can make the violent epidemic of smartphone theft a thing of the past, and these numbers prove that,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.

“It was evident from day one that a technological solution was not only possible, but that it would serve as an effective deterrent to this growing threat. This past year we successfully held the wireless industry’s feet to the fire and it’s already having an impact for consumers.”

 

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About bambooinnovator
KB Kee is the Managing Editor of the Moat Report Asia (www.moatreport.com), a research service focused exclusively on highlighting undervalued wide-moat businesses in Asia; subscribers from North America, Europe, the Oceania and Asia include professional value investors with over $20 billion in asset under management in equities, some of the world’s biggest secretive global hedge fund giants, and savvy private individual investors who are lifelong learners in the art of value investing. KB has been rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as an analyst in Asian capital markets. He was head of research and fund manager at a Singapore-based value investment firm. As a member of the investment committee, he helped the firm’s Asia-focused equity funds significantly outperform the benchmark index. He was previously the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. KB has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy, value investing, macroeconomic and industry trends, and detecting accounting frauds in Singapore, HK and China. KB was a faculty (accounting) at SMU teaching accounting courses. KB is currently the Chief Investment Officer at an ASX-listed investment holdings company since September 2015, helping to manage the listed Asian equities investments in the Hidden Champions Fund. Disclaimer: This article is for discussion purposes only and does not constitute an offer, recommendation or solicitation to buy or sell any investments, securities, futures or options. All articles in the website reflect the personal opinions of the writer.

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