US prosecutors want smartphone ‘kill switch’


NEW YORK—U.S. law enforcement officials are demanding the creation of a “kill switch” that would render smartphones inoperable after they are stolen, New York’s top prosecutor said in a clear warning to the world’s smartphone manufacturers.

Citing statistics showing that 1 in 3 robberies nationwide involve the theft of a mobile phone, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday announced the formation of a coalition of law enforcement agencies devoted to stamping out what he called an “epidemic” of robberies.

“All too often, these robberies turn violent,” said Schneiderman, who was joined at a news conference by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. “There are assaults. There are murders.”

The coalition, which is called the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative, will pressure smartphone companies and their shareholders to help dry up the secondary market in stolen phones.

The announcement came on the same day Gascon and Schneiderman were scheduled to co-host a “Smartphone Summit” with representatives from major smartphone makers Apple Inc., Samsung Electronics Co., Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp.

Schneiderman would not elaborate on how far his office might go to ensure that manufacturers comply with the coalition’s demands.

He likened the functionality of a “kill switch” to the ability for consumers to cancel a stolen credit card.

The general public should not be forced to pay more for smartphones that have a “kill switch,” Schneiderman said.

After the summit, Schneiderman and Gascon released a statement saying they “asked the companies to commit to develop effective solutions to this national crime wave and install them on all new products within one year.”

Apple said at a developers’ conference this week that such a feature would be part of its iOS7 software to be released in the fall. Gascon and Schneiderman said in a statement they were appreciative of the gesture but would reserve judgment until they could “understand its actual functionality.”

“Apple has been very vague as to what the system will do,” Gascon said at the news conference.

In New York City, nicknamed the Big Apple, police have coined the term “Apple-picking” to describe thefts of the popular iPhone and other mobile products, like iPads. Such thefts comprise 40 percent of all robberies in New York City, authorities say.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber
  • Tags:

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • Cue_Vas

    More stolen smartphones, more victims buying more new smartphones.
    It doesn’t make sense to tell manufacturers to help prevent smartphone theft.

  • oh_noh

    lulusutan pa rin yan ng mga kawatan! :)

  • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

    I’ve read of this IPhone app where, upon command of the original owner, will take pictures of the person using the stolen/found phone.

  • JOHNCeneza

    Warning unauthorize use of smartphone. please return me to the owner or this device will self destruct in 5 seconds. 5….4….3….2….1……kabooom… goodbye smartphone..

  • JOHNCeneza

    Cellphones can be hacked after its disabled. Make the cellphone that will blow and take out the theif’s hand.

  • DestronLeader

    My uncle got punched in the face for a cellphone. It wasn’t even a smartphone then.

  • WeAry_Bat

    Bwahahaha, it happened in the emergence of cellphones in the Phils. But in the States, the same thing happens and their panties tighten!

    • JanofVA

      That’s because unfortunately we are forced into 2 year contracts by the cellphone companies. You can’t just kill the account, you have to get another phone to activate and deactivate the other phone in order to get service off of it. It’s a pain in the rear to say the least. Plus if you have a smartphone, you have to buy the smartphone at full price to replace it…which could run you an extra $600 plus…

  • pilipino_ako6

    Great news! Can’t wait for it to become a reality globally.

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos