Schneiderman: We will continue to urge the industry to take immediate action and implement an opt-out kill switch on all devices
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today issued the following statement on Apple's new iPhone 6:
"The release of the newest iPhone is the latest example of the incredible innovations coming out of the smartphone industry. In previous years, the release of new products like this resulted in a spike in violent crime. In the last year, thanks to the work of our international 'Secure Our Smartphones' initiative, the industry has taken significant steps toward ensuring the safety and security of their customers.
"No consumer should have a target on their back simply because of the phone they carry in their hand. With strong evidence supporting the ability of kill switches to deter smartphone thefts, a strong coalition continuing to push for change, and the most tech-savvy companies in the world working with us to find a solution, the is no reason why more families should have to lose loved ones because a criminal decided to steal their phone.
"We will continue to urge all wireless carriers and smartphone manufacturers to take immediate action and implement an opt-out kill switch on all devices."
As co-chair of the "Secure Our Smartphone (S.O.S.)" initiative - an international partnership of law-enforcement agencies, elected officials and consumer advocates - Schneiderman led the effort to call on the wireless industry to address the global rise in smartphone thefts.
The work of the A.G. and the S.O.S. initiative has resulted in several tangible accomplishments:
•In September 2013, just three months after S.O.S. began its efforts, Apple unveiled "Activation Lock," a proof-of-concept kill switch available on all iPhones running the iOS 7 operating system with "Find My iPhone" enabled. In April, Samsung introduced "Reactivation Lock."
•Earlier this year, S.O.S. worked with Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Representative Jose Serrano to introduce companion federal legislation to require carriers and manufacturers to make kill switch anti-theft solutions mandatory for all smartphones in the U.S. On May 15, Minnesota became the first state to mandate a kill switch on all phones.
•In April, the industry group CTIA abandoned its long-held opposition to a kill switch and announced a "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment" in which AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon Wireless and others pledged to implement a kill switch solution on an opt-in basis.
•In June, just one year after the launch of the S.O.S. initiative, Google and Microsoft announced they would incorporate a kill switch in to the next version of their respective operating systems. As a result, a kill switch will soon be incorporated into the three dominant smartphone operating systems - Android, iOS and Windows Phone - which currently encompass 97 percent of smartphones in the U.S.
The work of the S.O.S. initiative continues. In a June report by the S.O.S. initiative, new data was released showing criminals now target devices not likely to be equipped with a kill switch. In New York, London and San Francisco, robberies and grand larcenies involving iPhones plummeted following the release of Apple's Activation Lock while violent crimes against people carrying phones without a kill switch surged. This emphasized the importance of immediately implementing life-saving technology across all manufacturers.
The A.G. said that, because kill switches are mostly available on a solely opt-in basis, not enough consumers are signing-up. This, he said, underscores the urgency of S.O.S.'s call to make kill switches a standard opt-out function on all phones.