A new report indicates U.S. law enforcement officials will announce today that Google and Microsoft will add “kill switches” to their operating systems for mobile devices. The kill switch is meant to serve as an anti-theft measure as it enables consumers to remotely lock smartphones and delete the data off of them if they are stolen. All three major producers of smartphone operating systems had been resisting calls to include the technology in their operating systems until last year when Apple finally cracked and included a kill switch in iOS 7. Since then, Verizon has added a kill switch to Samsung devices sold on their network.
The change in direction on the part of Google and Microsoft comes after new data shows thefts of iPhones in major cities has fallen dramatically since the implementation of the kill switch. In New York, thefts of iPhones are down 19 percent for January through May of 2014. In San Francisco the rate dropped 38 percent in the first six months after the iOS 7 launch compared to the prior six month period and in London the drop was 24 percent. In stark contrast, New York saw thefts of Samsung devices rise by more than 40 percent while San Francisco and London also saw increases.
According to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, “These statistics validate what we always knew to be true, that a technological solution has the potential to end the victimization of wireless consumers everywhere.”
While Google and Microsoft move to voluntarily follow the path of Apple in implementing a kill switch, they may only be responding to what they see as inevitable. Several state legislatures and even the U.S. Congress are considering bills to mandate the inclusion of a kill switch.
Although consumers will still have the ability to turn off the kill switch, consumers will begin to see their newly purchased devices coming with the kill switch turned on by default.
source: PC World