All major manufacturers and carriers in the US have signed a commitment to provide anti-theft tools and services to users on all handsets starting July 2015.
Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung have announced that they would be bringing anti-theft tools to their smartphone offerings. CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) announced that the manufacturers have agreed to undertake changes as outlined by the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment.”
In addition to the manufacturers, major cellular carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint have also pledged their support for the anti-theft commitment. According to the terms of the commitment, all manufacturers and carriers will offer the following tools and services for free on all their handsets starting July 2015:
- Remote wipe the authorized user’s data (i.e., erase personal info that is added after purchase such as contacts, photos, emails, etc.) that is on the smartphone in the event it is lost or stolen.
- Render the smartphone inoperable to an unauthorized user (e.g., locking the smartphone so it cannot be used without a password or PIN), except in accordance with FCC rules for 911 emergency communications, and if available, emergency numbers programmed by the authorized user (e.g., “phone home”).
- Prevent reactivation without authorized user’s permission (including unauthorized factory reset attempts) to the extent technologically feasible (e.g., locking the smartphone as in 2 above).
- Reverse the inoperability if the smartphone is recovered by the authorized user and restore user data on the smartphone to the extent feasible (e.g., restored from the cloud).
The commitment has been created to counter the increase in smartphone theft. Steve Largent, CTIA President and CEO stated that such anti-theft measures would go a long way in deterring smartphone theft and ensuring that a user’s information is secure. He said, “By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users’ personal information on smartphones.”