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Wireless carriers reject proposal to incorporate free “kill switch” application

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman wants to know why Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, United States Cellular Corporation, and Sprint decided to prohibit Samsung from pre-loading a “kill switch” feature on smartphones. The feature would allow smartphone users to disable their stolen phones remotely and make them inoperable when they fall into the wrong hands.

As co-chair of the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative, Schneiderman has been working with an international coalition of public officials and consumer activists in asking phone manufacturers and carriers to include anti-theft technology immediately, to remove the economic incentives behind smartphone thefts.

“For the past six months, the Secure Our Smartphone Initiative has called on the industry to put safety before profits and stop this violent epidemic,” Schneiderman said. “Considering this, it’s disturbing that the nation’s leading smartphone carriers knowingly dismissed technology that could save lives.”

He sent letters Wednesday to the chief executive officers of the companies with questions on why the kill switch was rejected and whether carriers acted independently in their decisions.

A Harris poll of phone owners found that nearly 10 percent said their phone had been stolen at one point. A recent study found that lost and stolen cell phones cost consumers over $30 billion last year.

Schneiderman is requesting that the carriers provide a detailed explanation of their decision to reject Samsung’s proposal and any other kill-switch technologies. Their replies are due to his office by Dec. 31.

Copyright 2013, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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