Authorities said that U.S. smartphones are equipped with a function to end the life of your device in case of theft.
Losing your mobile phone is usually a personal and economic drama, and when it comes to theft, can also pose a physical risk to their own, which U.S. politicians want to protect controversial laws that turn devices stolen in pots unusable.
Phone thefts have acquired the dimension of social problem in the U.S. where these illegal activities cost consumers $ 30 billion annually, according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and are a lucrative business for the Mafia.
The authorities, both locally and nationally, manufacturers require strong and telecommunications companies that refuse to let lawmakers dictate the technical specifications of their products measures.
The pressure of public representatives has increased in recent months to the point that the district attorney in San Francisco, George Gascon and Police Chief of Los Angeles, Charles Beck, have come to question the good faith of the sector.
“Telephony providers and manufacturers make billions of dollars replacing stolen phones. Also earn money by selling insurance. Profits should not guide decisions that have life and death consequences,” they said both in an opinion signed this week in Los Angeles Times.
An action to deactivate your stolen mobile.
In February, several senators introduced in Washington a bill called “Smartphone Theft Prevention Act” to force all smartphones sold in the U.S. are equipped by default with a function that only the owner can change to end life useful for your device and remotely operate worldwide.
This mechanism, dubbed “Kill Switch”, was also raised at the state level in Minnesota and California where the initiative supported by Beck and Gascón was rejected this week in a very close vote in Sacramento, near Silicon Valley.
Opponents of the proposal considered excessive regulation by restricting freedom of consumer choice and currently has available different applications to ensure that, in case of loss or theft, can locate your phone and delete all data remotely (“Find My iPhone “from Apple, is an example).
That’s one of the arguments used by the organization CTIA, an international association that promotes the interests of companies in the technology sector “wireless” umbrella telecom giants and device manufacturers.
For analyst Ramon T. Llamas of IDC, the concept of “Kill Switch” is “a good idea,” he told Efe, but I worried that the practice could lead to other problems the user to override the system by mistake. Although the law provides that a mechanism be established to “resurrect” the device in that case.
Both Verizon Wireless and AT & T, leading mobile network in the U.S., were sent to Efe to resolutions adopted by CTIA on this subject, among which is the covenant of self announced on April 15 called “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment”.
It is a sectoral commitment to all new smartphone models manufactured after July 2015 for marketing in the U.S. incorporate a burglar tool or offered for download.
That statement of intent was signed by Apple, Google, Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, Asurion and Verizon, AT & T, T-Mobile, Spring and U.S. Cellular, and technical requirements resemble the “Kill Switch “required by regulators, although there is an important difference.
The motivation behind the law is to discourage thieves’ hardware to standardize system unusable phones. This is only possible if it works in all cases. The companies promise a tool with more optional. A criminal will not know until he commits theft, or if the device is not protected.
The incentives for the offender are high. Models stolen generation iPhone in the U.S., where the most expensive terminal costs $ 849, can reach $ 2,000 in Hong Kong, as found by an operation against an Asian trading network “smartphones” dismantled stolen last year in California.
“Even the Colombian drug cartels smuggle them,” said Beck.
A report of 18 April U.S. consumer organization Consumer Reports noted that the number of thefts of smartphones in the country in 2013 was “nearly double” in 2012, a total of 3.1 million units.