Law Enforcement Officials From Around The Country Ask Smartphone Manufacturers To Install Kill Switches

showimageAs we mentioned yesterday, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón are meeting this week with execs from Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, and Google to discuss ways wireless device manufacturers can help deter theft and eliminate the market for stolen phones. Today, Schneiderman and Gascón — along with attorneys general, district attorneys, chiefs of police, consumer advocates, and educators — have launched a nationwide initiative to bring this issue to the fore.

Dubbed the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S) Initiative, it aims to convince wireless manufacturers and service providers that phone theft is a major problem — it is involved in around 1-in-3 robberies nationwide — but one that could be curbed by providing the owners of these devices the ability — via a so-called “kill switch” app — to disable a phone remotely once it has gone missing or been stolen.

Apple recently became the first manufacturer to announce a native kill switch service on its phones in the U.S. That feature will be pushed to iPhones and iPads with the next operating system update in the fall.

The nation’s major wireless carriers have agreed to implement a system that would “blacklist” a stolen phone from working on any of their networks, regardless of which network it was originally on. But critics say this doesn’t go far enough, as it still allows a stolen smartphone to be used on a WiFi network. It’s also possible that device could be shipped overseas where it would could be used on networks that aren’t part of the U.S. companies’ agreement.

And so the members of the S.O.S. Initiative, which includes Consumers Union, have jointly penned a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, Motorola Mobility CEO Dennis Woodside, Samsung Telecom America President Dale Sohn, AT&T’s Chairman, CEO and Sith Lord Randall L. Stephenson, his underling and President & CEO of AT&T Mobility Ralph de la Vega, T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse, and last but not least Verizon Communications CEO Lowell C. McAdam.

“Unlike other types of crimes, manufacturers and carriers have the ability to end the growing number of smartphone thefts with a technological solution,” reads the letter. “The implementation of a ‘kill switch’ would render stolen devices inoperable on any network, anywhere in the world. Such a feature would disable the device even if it is turned off or the SIM card has been removed. By eliminating the ability for the phone to be reactivated, the value of these mobile communications devices would be equivalent to that of a paperweight. As a result, the incentive to steal them would be eliminated.”

Consumers who want to join their voices to this letter can do so by signing the S.O.S. Initiative’s petition at

Below is the full list of officials, private citizens, and advocates that have signed on to the initiative:
· Attorney General Martha Coakley, Massachusetts

· Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Illinois

· Attorney General Beau Biden, Delaware

· Attorney General Lori Swanson, Minnesota

· Attorney General David Louie, Hawaii

· Attorney General George Jepsen, Connecticut

· Attorney General Jon Bruning, Nebraska

· Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, California

· State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, New York

· District Attorney Nancy O’Malley, Alameda County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr, New York County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Nassau County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney Mark A. Peterson, Contra Costa County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney Jeffrey F. Rosen, Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney Donald DuBain, Solano County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe, San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney Sandra Doorley, Monroe County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney David Soares, Albany County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney R. Seth Williams, Philadelphia County District Attorney’s Office

· District Attorney Jackie Lacey, Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office

· Comptroller John Liu, New York City

· Mayor Jean Quan, City of Oakland

· Senator Mark Leno, California State Senate

· Senator Leland Yee, California State Senate

· Assemblyman Marc Levine, California State Assembly

· Council member Libby Schaff, Oakland City Council

· Board Member Betty Yee, California Board of Equalization

· New York State Association of Chiefs of Police

· Superintendent Garry McCarthy, Chicago Police Department

· Chief Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Department

· Commissioner Thomas V. Dale, Nassau County Police Department

· Commissioner Charles H. Ramesy, Philadelphia Police Department

· Chief Greg Suhr, San Francisco Police Department

· Chief Michael Davis, Brooklyn Park Police Department

· Chief Edward Flynn, Milwaukee Police Department

· Commissioner Anthony Batts, Baltimore Police Department

· Chief Susan Manheimer, San Mateo Police Department

· Superintendent Colonel Rick Fuentes, New Jersey State Police

· Commissioner Ed Davis, Boston Police Department

· Chief Jane Castar, Tampa Police Department

· Chief Kim Jacobs, Columbus Police Department

· Major Cities Police Chiefs Association

· President Marty Halloran, San Francisco Police Officers Association

· Executive Director Chuck Wexler, Police Executive Research Forum

· Director Sue Rahr, Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission

· Richard Van Hauten, East Division Representative, Fort Worth Police Officers Association

· Sean Smoot, Chief Legal Counsel, Illinois Police Benevolent and Protective Association

· Consumers Union

· Christine Cole, Executive Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management, Harvard Kennedy School

· Malcolm Sparrow, Professor of the Practice of Public Management, Harvard Kennedy School

· Bernard Melekian, Paratus Group

· Psychologist Richard G. Dudley Jr., MD, Vera Institute Trustee

· David Weisburd, Professor of Criminalogy, George Mason University

· Tracey Meares, Walton Hale Hamilton Professor,Yale School of Law

· Anthony Braga, Don M. Gottfredson Professor of Evidence-Based Criminology, Rutgers School of Criminal Justice

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