There are some features that don’t really influence your device dramatically. And there are other features that do the exact opposite. Officials have released new figures regarding smartphone thefts which show that these have significantly dropped after the introduction of kill switch features by their manufacturers.
And while smartphone theft has dropped across the nation, it seems that iPhone users are reaping the most benefits. While general cell-phone theft has dropped a considerable 16 percent, iPhone specific crimes have decreased by a whopping 25 percent in cities like New York. San Franciscans had more reason to rejoice, as iPhone related robberies dropped by 40 percent as compared to the 27 percent drop in overall smartphone thefts.
These figures reflect a trend that came in the 12 months that followed the introduction of Apple’s kill switch in September 2013. And the US isn’t the only country basking in the glory of this progress. In Britain’s capital, such thefts have dropped by 50 percent, officials announced.
One such feature is the Activation Lock Feature that Apple launched with its iOS7. It works by asking for an ID and Password in order to reactivate handsets after a remote wipe. Soon after, large carriers such as AT&T, Google, Motorola, HTC, Samsung, Nokia, Sprint, T-mobile, Verizon or U.S. Cellular had also jumped into the anti-theft technology boat and vowed to build kill switches into their new devices.
New York police commissioner William Bratton commented on this marked decline, saying that such large decreases are certainly no coincidence. The kill switches have effectively restricted the marketability of stolen devices and as a result, associated crime has begun to dwindle.
“We have made real progress in tackling the smartphone theft epidemic that was affecting many major cities just two years ago,”
Boris Johnson, London Mayor announced.
The introduction of the kill switches was the result of the combined efforts of George Gascon, San Francisco District Attorney, Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General and Mayor Johnson. They, alongside other officials, argued for legislature that would mandate the kill switches. Even in states such as California, where such laws haven’t yet gone into effect, theft rates have dropped as a result of the introduction of the kill switch on several companies’ devices. California was in fact the first state to require built-in kill switches on mobile devices. The bill that Governor Jerry Brown signed back in August mandated that such technology be added until July.
“After meeting with families who have lost loved ones to violent robberies targeting their smartphones, we decided to raise the alarm about smartphone theft and called on the industry to adopt kill switch technology,”
Attorney General Schneiderman said in a statement.
At the same time, Attorney Schneiderman’s colleague, DA Gascon underlined the importance of anti-theft technology, mentioning that sophisticated new features are only interesting when manufacturers actually work towards preventing their customers from becoming the targets of violent crimes because of their purchases.
Congress took notice of the initiative and attempted to get involved. House and Senate Democrats proposed a Smartphone Theft Prevention Act in 2014, which would have mandated smartphones in the US to have built-in software allowing users to wipe all data remotely. Additionally, the technology would have made the phone inoperable to anyone but the user. Despite the fact that the bill didn’t receive much traction, the industry has continued with the introduction of the technology and the figures speak for themselves.
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