A group of smartphone industry giants including Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft, signed onto a voluntary program which was spearheaded by the US wireless industry that looks to incorporate anti-theft technology into handsets by July 2015. Given the name “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment,” the initiative was announced by the CTIA recently as a plan to stymie growth of smartphone thefts in the US.
The voluntary program is being backed by the top-five US wireless carriers, while smartphone and OS markers including Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung, all of which have agreed to participate according to Re/code. Companies that sign on to the commitment agree to make a “baseline anti-theft tool” available to customers who buy devices manufactured after July 2015. According to the document, the tool must allow users to remotely wipe data from a stolen or lost smartphone, rendering the device inoperable to an unauthorized user (aside from emergency calls as mandated by the FCC). This prevents reactivation without user consent and reverse said inoperability when the device is recovered.
According to the CTI President and CEO, Steve Largent:
We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen. At the same time, it's important different technologies are available so that a 'trap door' isn't created that could be exploited by hackers and criminals. By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users' personal information on smartphones.
Although some states lauded the new initiative, others like California state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said the program isn’t enough. Leno said the following regarding the matter:
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.