Smartphone crime has become an epidemic. Especially in places like New York City where the crime rate went up for first time in twenty years thanks to thieves mugging people for their iPhones.
As a response to the iPhone crimewave, Apple added some significant improvements to iOS 7, including a new Activation Lock feature, but according to the New York Police Department’s new commissioner, Bill Bratton, that’s not enough. Not only that, Bratton is pretty sure Apple and other U.S. smartphone makers are in cahoots with insurance companies to make a fortune by not installing a kill switch.
Speaking at a symposium on community policing yesterday, Commissioner Bratton said he’s joining the efforts of NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón to pressure Apple and other mobile device makers to install a kill switch for stolen devices.
Commissioner Bratton said it’d be easy for OEMs to make the kill switch and that Samsung already proposed making it standard on its phones, but American manufacturers are resistant to the idea.
“They don’t want to do it because they are basically working in cahoots with the insurance companies and they’re making a fortune off it… We are responding to a problem they can prevent. They have the capability to effectively make these phones useless.”
iOS 7’s new Activation Lock feature gives users the option to disable lost or stolen iPhones remotely, rendering the device useless without the owner’s iCloud password or PIN, which sounds like a user-controlled kill switch to us. George Gascón was pretty happy about it too. Other smartphone makers have yet to create a similar feature so it looks like Bratton’s wrath is a little misdirected.
We reached out to Commissioner Bratton to find out more about his killswitch initiative, as well as the fortune Apple’s making in cahoots with the insurance companies, but have yet to hear back from his office. In the meantime, maybe Commissioner Bratton could check up on the AT&T and Verizon before he starts his killswitch crusade. Last we heard it was the carriers who rejected the idea of a standard kill switch, because they don’t want smartphone muggings to go down.