Mobile companies commit to 'kill switch' software

By Kyle Johnson,

U.S. lawmakers have been pushing legislation for anti-theft technology in smartphones as a means to reduce theft and now several mobile companies have come forward to say they support the idea.

Industry trade group CTIA released a commitment that phone manufacturers will follow towards providing software similar to the desired "kill switch." The software will be available starting in 2015.

The anti-theft software will be free for consumers and will either be downloadable or already on the phone (a feature available in mid-2015). The software will allow people to wipe their data should their phone get stolen and essentially brick the phone. Should the phone be recovered, the phone could possibly be rendered useable again by an authorized user.

The commitment includes the names of participating companies, which includes the likes of AT&T, Google, HTC America, Samsung, T-Mobile, Verizon and others.

CNN reports CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent said, "We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen."

Lawmakers have been moving forward with their legislation, with Minnesota possibly voting next week on a mandatory kill-switch bill.

California Sen. Mark Leno said he was happy that the companies were finally going to do their part to help lower theft. "Only weeks ago, they claimed that the approach they are taking today was infeasible and counterproductive."

Leno, though, feels that using the software should be mandatory since not all users might actually activate it on their own. The commitment made "misses the mark," he noted.

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