The FCC has already challenged mobile carriers to turn on “kill switch” by default. We’ve heard several discussions as well including US Senators backing the “kill switch” proposal and actually being passed in the Senate. Some companies tried to bring such feature to phones like what McAfee did on the LG G3. Google officially brought a new kill switch feature to smartphones as part of Android Lollipop late last year.
Even before the FCC and those other organizations started pushing for the kill switch, Samsung and LG already planned this “kill switch” for future smartphones. Unfortunately, US carriers tried to kill Samsung’s kill switch anti-theft measure for some reason much to the chagrin of the New York Attorney General. With the California kill switch bill taking effect yesterday, the industry is all ears about what could it mean for the people.
Well, as expected, smartphone theft went down last Wednesday as the law took effect in California. The law required smartphones sold in the state to have the “kill switch” by default. Users can opt-out of the feature but the goal of the kill switch is to lessen the value of stolen phones. This kill switch allows users to brick their smartphones remotely when it is stolen by someone or lost.
When a phone is bricked, it becomes useless to the thief or whoever finds the device because he can’t use it anymore. The idea is to discourage theft. Actually, this isn’t surprising since smartphone thieves are said to be suffering already since last year. Apple started by introducing the Activation Lock as its version of the kill switch. Remote bricking on lost phones started, discouraging theft because any phone would be useless.
It seems most phone thieves have stopped their activities. Forbes has shared that according to a Consumer Reports study, thefts declined from 3.1 million(2013) to 2.1 million in 2014. That’s almost a million– a third of the previous number–which is quite impressive. The two million of phone thefts is still a big number but with the kill switch bill in effect, we can expect it to go lower this year and beyond.
This change is happening on a national level in the United States but we can expect a “worldwide reduction in smartphone robberies” according to San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, one of those prosecutors who fought for this change. We’re excited to know how fast numbers will decline not only in the United States but also in other countries around the world.
So yeah, Kill Switch rules.