Apple joins tech heavyweights, wireless carriers in smartphone anti-theft initiative

Posted:
in iPhone edited April 2014
A group of smartphone industry giants, including Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft, signed on to a voluntary program spearheaded by the U.S. wireless industry that looks to incorporate anti-theft technology into handsets by July 2015.



Dubbed the "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment," the initiative was announced by the CTIA on Tuesday as a plan to stymie growth of smartphone thefts in the U.S.

The voluntary program is being backed by the top-five U.S. wireless carriers, while smartphone and OS makers Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung have all agreed to participate, reports Re/code.

Companies that sign on to the commitment agree to make a "baseline anti-theft tool" available to customers who buy devices manufactured after July 2015. According to the document, the tool must allow users to remotely wipe data from a stolen or lost smartphone, render the device inoperable to an unauthorized user (aside from emergency calls as mandated by the FCC), prevent reactivation without user consent and reverse said inoperability when the device is recovered.

"We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen," said CTIA President and CEO Steve Largent. "At the same time, it's important different technologies are available so that a 'trap door' isn't created that could be exploited by hackers and criminals. By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users' personal information on smartphones."

The full "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment" can be viewed on the CTIA's official website.

For Apple, many of the agreement's anti-theft features are already built into iOS and iCloud with Find My iPhone and iOS 7's Activation Lock. Find My iPhone lets users locate, lock and wipe lost or stolen devices, while Activation Lock requires entry of an associated Apple ID and password before turning off Find My iPhone, erasing data or re-activating a device after it's been remotely erased.

While some states lauded the new initiative, others like California state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) said the program isn't enough.

"The wireless industry today has taken an incremental yet inadequate step to address the epidemic of smartphone theft," Leno said. "Only weeks ago, they claimed that the approach they are taking today was infeasible and counterproductive. While I am encouraged they are moving off of that position so quickly, today's 'opt-in' proposal misses the mark if the ultimate goal is to combat street crime and violent thefts involving smartphones and tablets."

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    That politician is full of it. He says that it was claimed only weeks ago that these features were infeasible, yet Apple has had these since forever ago.
  • Reply 2 of 17
    Apple is already ahead of everyone , don't have to wait till 2015 only scamsung , the rest.
  • Reply 3 of 17
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by michaeloftroy View Post



    That politician is full of it. He says that it was claimed only weeks ago that these features were infeasible, yet Apple has had these since forever ago.

    He simply wants his bill to be responsible so he can get credit for it.

    -> http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201320140SB962

     

    But this should NOT be a law. It should be a private deal/industry driving it.

  • Reply 4 of 17
    All of the anti-theft capabilities are inoperable if someone can turn the damned phone off without entering a password.
  • Reply 5 of 17
    danoxdanox Posts: 599member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WisdomSeed View Post



    All of the anti-theft capabilities are inoperable if someone can turn the damned phone off without entering a password.

     

    Building additional hooks into phone that can be hacked later on is only asking for trouble, leave it be.

  • Reply 6 of 17
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by WisdomSeed View Post



    All of the anti-theft capabilities are inoperable if someone can turn the damned phone off without entering a password.

    How so?  The phone has to get powered on again at some point and then the kill switch takes effect, no?

  • Reply 7 of 17
    "By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users' personal information on smartphones."

    That will never happen. By the time laws are made, smartphone theft won't be an issue anymore. This is just another knee jerk reaction by politicians who want to rule the world. Hahaha
  • Reply 8 of 17
    Title should read Apple lead other tech lightweights…I dont like humbleness
  • Reply 9 of 17
    tzeshantzeshan Posts: 2,351member

    Apple implemented this feature in Find my iPhones years ago.  I believe Apple has a patent in  it.  I think the truth is Android fans want it.  The CTIA uses this tactic so Apple can allow Android users to use without paying Apple.  Apple made numerous innovations in iPhone.  The cheap Android users want these innovations.  What I hate is they they don't give Apple proper credit.  

  • Reply 10 of 17
    This is like Apples thing. I still think Googles Android is going to be vulnerable. All you have to do is put it into recovery and you can wipe it. Clean.
  • Reply 11 of 17
    Yeah you required to use Apple ID to turn off activation lock. But but.. What about when someone stole iPhone, that crook SOB can simply turn airplane mode on to prevent us iOS user from track, wipe or lock.
  • Reply 12 of 17
    My son's iPhone 5 was stolen. It was passcode protected. He was on my Find Friends list, as well as his own Find my iPhone. The first thing the thief did was turn off the phone. That was months ago. There has not been so much as an alert that the phone had ever been turned on since. Had the phone not been turned off, the tracking would've led to the phone if not the thief as well. If the passcode would've been required to turn the phone off, all of the anti theft aspects of the phone would be active and intact and the phone more likely to have been retrieved.
  • Reply 13 of 17
    That is only if they have access to that from the lock screen, which you can turn off.
  • Reply 14 of 17
    artdentartdent Posts: 66member

    Same thing happened to my daughter. She waited for a week for the phone to be turned on, but nothing. She needed another phone and, once she set up the new one, Find My iPhone became useless for locating the stolen one.

     

    Activation Lock should include options for requiring passwords/fingerprint scans for airplane mode or powering off.

  • Reply 15 of 17
    erpxerpx Posts: 24member
    When my iPad was left on an airplane, I was able to track it (amazingly accurate), lock it and get the thief (cleaning crew person) to return it to lost and found to avoid potential prosecution and job lost.
  • Reply 16 of 17
    chris_cachris_ca Posts: 2,543member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by WisdomSeed View Post



    My son's iPhone 5 was stolen. It was passcode protected. He was on my Find Friends list, as well as his own Find my iPhone. The first thing the thief did was turn off the phone. That was months ago. There has not been so much as an alert that the phone had ever been turned on since. 

    Did you enable Lost Mode?

    iCloud: Use Lost Mode 

  • Reply 17 of 17
    Blackberry has had this tech in their phones for almost a decade now. Any mention of them in your article? Its a shame how long it is taking Apple to catch up with them technologically. At least they have a great PR department...or did...
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