Carriers say they support mobile kill switch effort

However, the executives stop short of endorsing a Senate bill requiring them to install kill switches on mobile devices

Executives with three U.S. mobile carriers have voiced support for an effort in the U.S. Congress to encourage mobile carriers to offer services to customers that would render smartphones and tablets inoperable if they're stolen.

Executives with Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile USA and C Spire Wireless all said Wednesday they're taking steps to offer kill switches on mobile devices they sell to consumers, although they stopped short of endorsing a bill that would require mobile carriers to offer kill switch services.

The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act was introduced by Senator Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, earlier this month. It would require mobile carriers to provide customers with optional kill switch services.

About a third of thefts in the U.S. now involve mobile devices, Klobuchar said during a hearing about mobile competition. She used part of her questioning time at the hearing to ask the mobile executives about her bill, noting that Apple's iPhone 5 allows customers to recover their data from stolen phones.

Thefts are on the rise because smartphones "are fetching between [US]$100 and $500 on the international market," Klobuchar said.

Verizon Wireless is working with app developers and device manufacturers to develop kill switch capabilities, said Randal Milch, general counsel at Verizon Communications.

"We are eagerly awaiting kill switch capabilities from other phone manufacturers," he said. "It's both a manufacturer and an operating system issue."

A kill switch needs to be free to customers and secure, Milch added. "We don't want an instance where it's a hackable kill switch issue," he said.

T-Mobile shares Klobuchar's goals to prevent smartphone theft, added Kathleen Ham, the company's vice president for federal regulatory affairs. T-Mobile participates in a global stolen-phone database alert system, and it installs locate, lock and wipe software on all phones, she said.

C Spire supports a kill switch concept as well, but it doesn't have the market power to require manufacturers to install kill switch software on phones, said Eric Graham, senior vice president for strategic relations at Cellular South, C Spire's parent company.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's email address is grant_gross@idg.com.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentmobileregulationlegalantitrustVerizon WirelessT-Mobile USAU.S. SenateAmy KlobucharC Spire WirelessEric GrahamKathleen HamRandal Milch

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Grant Gross

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?