Bloomberg reports that a Manhattan District Attorney is challenging recent moves by Apple, Google and other tech companies by suggesting government pass laws that prevent mobile devices from being “sealed off from law enforcement.” In an interview this week, the government official called it “an issue of public safety.”
According to a report from PC World, both Google and Microsoft are planning to announce plans to add a smartphone kill switch to their mobile software in an effort to combat device theft. The feature would allow users with stolen devices to report their device as missing and disable it from being used without specific credentials in an incident of theft. This feature has already proven to deter theft of iPhones as iOS recently introduced a similar functionality.
The news comes after The New York Times released data from the city’s police pointing to a 19 percent decline in iPhone thefts in 2014 compared to the same period in 2013 which considers Apple’s Activation Lock feature introduced to the public last fall with iOS 7. The report from PC World notes that thefts of Samsung devices have risen by more than 40 percent.
Bloomberg reports California’s Senate has passed a bill that will force smartphone makers like Samsung to implement “technology that would let customers remotely wipe data from their devices and render them inoperable when stolen.” Officials have been attempting to pass similar bills with no luck but have since made tweaks to the legislation removing tablets and other terms.
Under the new bill, smartphones sold in California must include the technology starting in July 2015. While the bill was passing 25-8, the margin in the Democratic-controlled Senate can change as absent members continue to enter votes. The state Assembly, also controlled by Democrats, will consider the legislation next.
Last year Apple and Google introduced new theft deterrent features just as government officials in San Francisco were increasing pressure on smartphone makers to implement such features. While Apple’s new “Activation Lock” feature requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a stolen phone after being remotely erased/wiped by the owner, it fell short of a full-on kill switch feature that officials were hoping for and required the user to enable it. Google has since introduced similar features for Android devices.
Samsung and Google have yet to respond to comment on the bill, but an Apple spokesperson told Bloomberg the following: Expand Expanding Close