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Senator Asks Carriers to Explain Kill Switch Decision

Article Comments  6  

Dec 31, 2013, 8:56 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar has written a letter to the CEOs of the country's five largest wireless network operators requesting that they do more to help curb cell phone theft. Klobuchar points out that nearly one-third of all robberies involves a cell phone, and stolen mobile devices take a $30 billion toll on consumers each year. Lawmakers in California and New York recently attempted to convince the carriers (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon Wireless) to add kill switches to their devices. The tool would allow consumers whose devices are lost or stolen to permanently deactivate their phone. Lawmakers believe that this will help curb the illegal resale of cell phones and eventually reduce robberies. Samsung developed such a kill switch, but carriers shot the idea down over fears of lost insurance revenue. "Your five companies [serve] more than 90 percent of the nation's wireless subscribers," wrote Klobuchar. "With that market share comes an obligation to do all you can to utilize technologies available to protect consumers. While I understand your companies are continuing to work with law enforcement on the stolen cell phone database, it is clear that consumers want and deserve a comprehensive strategy to prevent mobile device thefts." Klobuchar asked the carriers to send her information about any offers made by handset makers to add kill switches, and why they didn't adopt them; information on whether or not the carriers have considered devices with features similar to Apple's activation lock; and details on how each company will include kill switches on future products at no cost to consumers. Klobuchar gave the carriers until January 9 to respond.

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Dec 31, 2013, 12:00 PM

Carrier Response


Permanantly disable it? Why not do the exact same thing, but be able to reactivate it if you want, maybe with a password or encryption key of some kind that you could enter on a website?

Lost revenue? If you use the kill switch you'll STILL have to make an insurance claim! Seems lost revenue would be $0.

The Senate is pretty useless and should be abolished. These people very obviously don't live with the common people, and have no idea what their wants and needs are.
Yeah, none of this makes sense.

How would they lose money?

How is phone software their responsibility? Anyone who wants this sort of thing can already get it.
lost revenue meaning the are trying to cut down on stolen devices. if there is a kill switch that would make people less likely to want to steal the devices. meaning less insurance replacements considering through insurance you are getting another dev...

Jan 1, 2014, 11:26 AM

International Note3 has Kill Switch!

What the Kill Switch does is..
making someone stole you phone useless!
when you put in a new (thief) sim card in the phone, it requires you to enter a password before you can use the phone.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cu8yeJxPTE8 »

Dec 31, 2013, 3:45 PM

See, Look, we are doing work!

Personally, the idea of a kill switch is stupid, if you have no chance to reactivate the phone if you find it.

Apple already has an actvation lock built into the icloud, and there are tons of apps that offer remote lock. AND if the phone is reported lost or stolen (on CDMA anyway) it cant be reactived.

Sounds like they are just trying to pretend they are doing something so they look busy.
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