Carriers Nix Cell Phone Kill Switch Over Profit Fears
Nov 19, 2013, 10:54 AM by Eric M. Zeman
U.S wireless network operators are not interested in allowing smartphone makers to install kill switches that would allow owners to deactivate their phones remotely if they become lost or stolen. Lawmakers in New York and San Francisco have been working with handset manufacturers, such as Apple and Samsung, to put the software kill switches on their smartphones. The idea is to make it easier for consumers to protect themselves by making it easier to deactivate lost/stolen devices. The long range goal is to deter cell phone theft, since deactivated devices will not be attractive to thieves. However, The New York Times says the lawmakers involved in the discussions have seen emails between U.S. network operators and handset makers that shows the operators don't want to hurt the profits they make by selling insurance programs to consumers. "Corporate profits cannot be allowed to guide decisions that have life-or-death consequences," said San Francisco's district attorney, George Gascon. "This solution has the potential to safeguard customers, but these emails suggest the carriers rejected it so they can continue to make money hand over fist on insurance premiums." For their part, carriers say they've helped to curb phone theft through the creation of a nationwide database of stolen cell phone IDs. Devices that appear in the database cannot be activated on any of the major networks, provided the lost/stolen devices are actually added to the list.
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