Tech Made Simple

Hot Topics: How to Fix Bluetooth Pairing Problems | Complete Guide to Facebook Privacy | How to Block Spam Calls | Snapchat Symbol Meaning

We may earn commissions when you buy from links on our site. Why you can trust us.

author photo

Phone Carriers Kill the Cell Phone "Kill Switch"

by Fox Van Allen on November 19, 2013

Thief stealing a phoneEarlier this year, San Francisco Attorney General George Gascón launched a countrywide effort to get remote “kill switches” installed on all cellphones sold in the United States. The idea is this: If your phone gets stolen, you could send a signal to it remotely that would permanently disable the device.

In a report on the New York Times Bits blog, author Brian Chen details Gascón’s work with Samsung to put kill switch software on every device sold by the smartphone heavyweight. But while the hardware manufacturer is on board with the idea, phone carriers are using their veto power to say “no way.”

Why? According to emails reviewed by Gascón, it all comes down to money – specifically, the money to be made selling anti-theft phone insurance policies. Market research firm ResearchMoz estimates phone insurance is a $30 billion industry in 2013. A drop in phone theft would almost certainly correspond to a drop in industry profits.

“Corporate profits cannot be allowed to guide decisions that have life-or-death consequences,” Gascón said. “This solution has the potential to safeguard Samsung customers, but these emails suggest the carriers rejected it so they can continue to make money hand over fist on insurance premiums.”

Of course, cell carriers see things differently. They argue that a kill switch could be a dangerous tool in the hands of hackers. Carriers instead favor a nationwide stolen phone database, though the database does little to combat stolen phones being sold overseas.

Even in the face of monolithic opposition, however, Gascón refuses to back down and give up on the idea. “We are now evaluating what course of action will be necessary to force them to prioritize the safety of their customers over additional money in their pockets,” he added.

[Thief stealing mobile phone via Shutterstock]


Cell Phones, News, Phones and Mobile, Blog

Discussion loading


From c2752713 on December 14, 2013 :: 6:42 pm

There is now a White House kill switch petition here


Home | About | Meet the Team | Contact Us
Media Kit | Newsletter Sponsorships | Licensing & Permissions
Accessibility Statement
Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookie Policy

Techlicious participates in affiliate programs, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, which provide a small commission from some, but not all, of the "click-thru to buy" links contained in our articles. These click-thru links are determined after the article has been written, based on price and product availability — the commissions do not impact our choice of recommended product, nor the price you pay. When you use these links, you help support our ongoing editorial mission to provide you with the best product recommendations.

© Techlicious LLC.