‘Kill switch’ reduces smartphone thefts: Study

New York, July 3 (IANS) Have you equipped your costly smartphone with a ‘kill switch’? If not, then do so immediately as this may save you several thousand rupees and a lot of embarrassment due to lost data.

The “kill switch” option allows the owners to remotely disable, or “kill”, their phone if it is stolen. The process is also known as “bricking” – transforming the phone from a valuable piece of electronic equipment into a mere plastic brick.

A study published by Consumer Reports suggests that kill-switch technology is already having an effect: in 2013, 3.1 million Americans had their phones stolen, but in 2014 that number dropped to 2.1 million, consumeraffairs.com reported.

The rationale behind kill switches is to discourage smartphone thefts: thieves would not bother stealing phones if they know the phones’ legitimate owners will immediately be able to brick them and render them worthless.

Samsung developed the app as early as 2013, yet companies including Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, United States Cellular Corporation, and Sprint responded by preventing Samsung from pre-loading the app.

This in turn inspired New York’s attorney general in December 2013 to ask those wireless carriers why they would not allow it, and urged carriers to embrace the technology “as a simple yet effective way to protect” smartphone owners from theft.

Now, California has become the second US state after Minnesota where the law mandates that all smartphones sold in the state come equipped with a ‘kill switch’.

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