Saturday, September 20, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

To prevent theft, a push for cell phone "kill switches"

In an effort to combat cell-phone theft, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his Pennsylvania counterpart, Kathleen Kane, came to City Hall today to call on smartphone makers to install "kill switches" in their products.

To prevent theft, a push for cell phone "kill switches"

In an effort to combat cell-phone theft, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and his Pennsylvania counterpart, Kathleen Kane, came to City Hall today to call on smartphone makers to install "kill switches" in their products. 

Schneiderman last spring helped launch the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative, which he called "an effort to force a group of corporate citizens to do the right thing."

The kill switches he is seeking would work like cancelling a stolen credit card: Customers would be able to call a number and disable the phone, preventing thieves from "jail-breaking" the devices and reselling them. 

"The incentives to take the phone has to be eliminated," Schneiderman said. 

He said cell-phone companies make $30 billion per year on replacing lost or stolen cell phones, a big reason to drag their feet on the initiative. Still, he has met with the four major phone manufacturers and has seen some progress.

The newest iPhone has an optional kill switch feature that customers can choose to activate. Schneiderman would rather the switches be universal but was happy to see some movement on the issue.

The attorneys general were joined by Mayor Nutter, who said cell-phone thefts have accounted for 12.8 percent of total thefts in Philadelphia this year, up from 11.2 percent in 2012. Those thefts are rising, Nutter said, despite crime rates decreasing overall. 

About this blog
Chris Brennan, a native Philadelphian and graduate of Temple University, joined the Daily News in 1999. He has written about SEPTA, the Philadelphia School District, the legalization of casino gambling, state government, the mayor, the governor, City Council and political campaigns. E-mail tips to brennac@phillynews.com
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Jenny DeHuff is a 2005 graduate of the University of Rhode Island, where she cut her teeth in journalism. A South Philly transplant from New England, she joined the Daily News City Hall Bureau in 2013. For the past several years, she has worked as an investigative reporter exposing corruption in suburban politics, covering sometimes ghastly criminal court cases and following the people’s money and how its spent. In addition to being a dogged news hound, she enjoys reading and writing about travel, animals, Irish whiskey and aviation. E-mail tips to dehuffj@phillynews.com
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