Apple has agreed to back a new initiative along with a host of Android manufacturers and all of the major U.S. cellular carriers that would require all smartphones manufactured after July 2015 to come with specific anti-theft features. The program is the latest attempt to prevent theft of smartphones, which some have blamed for increasing crime rates.Other companies on board include Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, and Samsung — while carriers have reportedly agreed to help “facilitate these measures,” as per the CTIA announcement earlier today.
Apple’s support of the need for a kill-switch doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. The company added an Activation Lock with iOS 7, designed to make it tougher for thieves to use stolen iOS devices. The feature allows users to remotely locate, lock and wipe their iPhones if they are stolen. Today’s agreement between the carriers and handset manufacturers essentially states that all parties will ship this exact type of system on new phones.
Specifically, the required anti-theft measures are broken into four kinds:
-A remote-wipe feature (like the one included with the Find My iPhone service)
-A remote-lock feature (like the PIN code setting included with Find My iPhone)
-A restore-blocking feature that can prevent unauthorized attempts to wipe the phone and use it (like iOS 7′s Activation Lock)
-And the ability to restore the original owner’s data upon recovery of the device (such as from an iCloud or iTunes backup)
According to survey data released in December last year, around 78% of iPhones are now protected by Activation Lock.
But not everyone is happy about the move. While everyone appreciates the severity of the iPhone stealing epidemic, California state Senator Mark Leno thinks the “opt-in” nature of the agreement doesn’t go far enough, and is seeking mandatory measures.
“The wireless industry today has taken an incremental yet inadequate step to address the epidemic of smartphone theft. Only weeks ago, they claimed that the approach they are taking today was infeasible and counterproductive. While I am encouraged they are moving off of that position so quickly, today’s ‘opt-in’ proposal misses the mark if the ultimate goal is to combat street crime and violent thefts involving smartphones and tablets.”
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