Have you ever lost your phone either by theft or pure forgetfulness? Does just the thought of having some stranger (or stalker) possibly looking at your duck-faced nude selfies freak you out? Lets take a look at this scenario, what if one of your trusted employees happen to lose your top secret prototype at a San Francisco bar? If you didn’t lose your cell phone you would probably type “OMG” right about now, but you did, so what do you do? Samsung, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Apple, Microsoft, Nokia, and others have now adopted the anti-theft smartphone kill switch to be incorporated on all their devices as of July 2015.
If you did lose your phone, until now your options have been limited. Sure, some states have tried to pass legislation to protect you and there are some apps that can help you out like Android Device Manager (by Google) or Lookout Security, however a smart criminal can get around those quite easily by formatting the device and other means.
CTIA’s Smarphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment states that features included will be the ability to prevent the phone from being reactivated, remotely wipe to protect your data, and restore from the cloud via a reverse the inoperability of the device function in case you were to retrieve the device. My favorite part of this technology is that it would even prevent unauthorized individuals from attempting a factory reset on the device. Surprisingly not only is this policy supported by device manufacturers but also all four major wireless carriers, Google, and Asurion.
This is a great start in order to finally start protecting the consumer with technology that should have been implemented 7 or 8 years ago. It is still missing one key capability, GPS tracking of a missing device. If your device is lost or stolen, yes you can render it inoperable to the person who now has your cell phone, but what about helping you get it back? This is a key feature that is not included, but putting that aside this is a great first step.
Committed device manufacturers will have this kill switch implemented in their devices first manufactured after July 2015 for retail sale in the United States.