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Smartphone kill-switch could save consumers US$2.6 billion per year, says report

Martyn Williams | March 31, 2014
Technology that remotely makes a stolen smartphone useless could save American consumers up to $2.6 billion per year if it is implemented widely and leads to a reduction in theft of phones, according to a new report.

Two executives from companies that sell insurance to smartphone users, Manny Becerra, president of the mobile services business at Assurant Solutions, and Bret Comolli, chairman of Asurion, also sit on the CTIA board of directors.

The CTIA's answer to rising theft has been a database that blocks stolen phones from being reactivated by new subscribers, but the database only covers a handful of countries, meaning stolen phones can still be used in nations outside of the system. Earlier this year, the CTIA acknowledged the limited international reach was a weakness.

"This survey confirms what we already knew to be the case, that wireless consumers would benefit tremendously from the implementation of theft deterrent technology on all smartphones," San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said. "Beyond the financial benefits to consumers, however, the human costs of not implementing this technology on all smartphones are simply too great."

Gascon has been at the head of efforts to mandate a kill switch.

The CTIA could not immediately be reached for comment.

According to data from law enforcement agencies, half of all robberies in San Francisco in 2013 targeted a smartphone. In New York it was 20 percent, a rise of 40 percent on 2012, and in London around 10,000 smartphones are stolen each month.


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