No need for law on anti-theft app, say mobile phone makers
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Installing a kill-switch on all mobile phones is easier than believed, and with all the recent developments in the market, congressional action may not be needed.
Many phone manufacturers have developed kill-switches—all that’s left to do is make them available across all cell phone models.
In the House of Representatives, Ang Mata’y Alagaan party-list Rep. Lorna Velasco is seeking approval of a bill requiring mobile service providers to install kill-switch software in all cellular phones they provide to their subscribers.
“The enactment of this bill into law will effectively weaken, if not eliminate completely, the black market in stolen cell phones, which in turn will lead to a reduction in crimes related to mobile phones,” Velasco said in her explanatory note to the bill.
But since 2013, Filipino smartphone maker MyPhone has been installing a technology called Theft Apprehension and Asset Recovery Application (Tara) “on some models of its products.”
MyPhone said it is aimed at helping curb massive phone theft, which in 2012 numbered some 6,600 reported incidents nationwide.
Tara is similar to Apple’s kill-switch “Find My iPhone” in that it erases the contents of a stolen phone. But unlike the Apple app, it does not give the owner an idea of where the phone is.
Jun Lozada, who developed the MyPhone app, had said in a previous interview with the Inquirer that while Tara could not guarantee the stolen unit would be returned to its owner, it would at least prevent the thieves from selling it.
Besides, the stolen phone, even when turned off, would regularly set off an alarm and an automated voice would let people nearby know it is not in the hands of its rightful owner.
While anti-theft apps made by manufacturers like MyPhone and Apple are available, others have yet to follow suit.
Software developers have said they are already on it.
Google and Microsoft said they were developing similar applications to be embedded in the mobile operating systems they had developed.
Google, which developed Android, said it had developed a kill-switch that zeroes in on malicious apps and privacy violations only. The company said it had yet to transform it into a full anti-theft app.
But Android users have only to explore the Internet to find an anti-theft application.
One app touted to be a kill-switch has been available on Google Play since 2012.
Called “Find My Phone,” the app was developed by Glenn Beach, the same developer who came out with “Bake My Day,” and is available for free download.
In June, Microsoft, which has been struggling to keep its operating system on mobile devices amid the Android explosion, said the kill-switch it has been developing could also be remotely activated by the owner of a stolen device.
Microsoft did not elaborate but hinted its kill-switch might be incorporated into an existing app designed to help owners find their phones.