Smartphone crime is a huge problem. In fact, New York City’s crime rate went up for the first time in twenty years because people are mugged violently so often for their iPhones.
In response to iPhone crime, Apple has made some important improvements to iOS, including requiring users to enter their iCloud password to turn ‘Find my iPhone’ off, and the new ‘Activation Lock’ feature in iOS 7which allows users to disable stolen or lost iPhones remotely.
Apple’s got the right solution, but you know who hates it? The carriers. In fact, as other manufacturers have tried to insert similar cellphone kill switches in their smartphones to Apple’s, the carriers are standing defiant against them. Why? Because they are afraid that it will affect their bottom lines.
Law enforcement officials are up in arms that carriers have rejected building a kill switch into every smartphone, even as an increasing number of smartphone and tablet users are being violently assaulted for their gadgets.
“It is highly disturbing that these corporations rejected a proposal that would have helped keep millions of consumers safe,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman said Wednesday, as reports swirl that carriers have rejected the idea. “If they did so to protect their own profit margins, as several recent reports suggest, it is even more egregious,” the pair continued.
The issue for carriers is this: the threat of being mugged sells insurance plans to customers. If you’re less likely to be mugged for your smartphone or tablet, because it will stop functioning the second someone hits the kill switch remotely, you’ll be less likely to buy insurance.
To be fair, though, the carriers have other concerns. For example, a kill switch could be taken advantage of by hackers to disable phones maliciously. But it sure sounds like an additional concern for carriers is the fact that that the less people getting beaten and stabbed for their smartphones, the less money they’ll make.
Another way Apple is ahead of the competition, and standing up for the little guy.
Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that ‘Activation Lock’ would not survive an iPhone wipe. Thanks to Apple representative Trudy Muller for reaching out to set us right.