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Smartphone 'Kill Switch' would save $2.5 billion annually, says researcher

Written by James Delahunty @ 01 Apr 2014 7:22 User comments (5)

Smartphone 'Kill Switch' would save $2.5 billion annually, says researcher

If all smartphones and tablets came with a Kill Switch that could render them inoperable remotely, it could save consumers $2.5 billion per year in the U.S.
That's according to William Duckworth, a statistics professor at Creighton University. His research found that consumers spend around $500 million replacing devices that have been stolen per annum.

When you take into account the money spent by consumers on insurance policies, it gets even worse. According to the study, consumers spend around $2 billion ever year on premium insurance plans obtained through their carrier.

So what is a kill switch? Simply put, a kill switch is a mechanism by which a stolen device could be rendered completely inoperable remotely. This protects consumers on two fronts; the first being that personal information on stolen devices may be inaccessible once it's remotely killed, and the second in a broader sense would reduce crime.

Arguments for and against

An astonishing amount of robberies in the United States involve mobile devices, with estimates reaching up to a third of all thefts in some places. Police and policymakers have often dubbed the problem "apple picking", and see a major disincentive being created for criminals if devices came with Kill Switches by default.



The industry generally opposes such mechanisms being mandated by government, and there have been some steps toward providing consumers with these options. However, some consumers are also put off such mechanisms due to the threat of hackers or the misuse by law enforcement / government agencies in the future.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said on the issue recently that the wireless industry must move to prevent the victimization of its customers. He is joined by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in believing that state-wide or federal regulations are the answer to this question.

A conflict of interest for the wireless industry?

As stated previously, Duckworth's study shows that customers spend around $500 million replacing stolen devices every year, and around $2 billion on premium insurance policies. The study showed that over half of 1,200 smartphone owners said they would buy cheaper insurance policies that do not cover theft if it became less of a concern. Manufacturers would lose out on the sale of new devices, while carriers and third party insurers would also lose money.

"In addition to saving lives, the common sense theft deterrent features we have been advocating for will also help save consumers money," Gascon and Schneiderman said in a statement about the study, reports HuffingtonPost.

"Manufacturers and carriers need to put public safety before corporate profits and stop this violent epidemic, which has put millions of smartphone users at risk."

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5 user comments

11.4.2014 19:57

Would love to see this happen but would hate to see it backfire with hackers disabling users phones.

22.4.2014 10:29

The "kill" needs to be reversible. It's great to be able to kill a phone if it is lost/stolen and never recovered. However, it needs to be possible to "unkill" a phone if it is lost/stolen and then returned to it's legal owner. Perhaps a method that the carrier or manufacturer can run once the legal owner proves that the phone is back in their possession.

32.4.2014 15:37

Quote:
In addition to saving lives, the common sense theft deterrent features we have been advocating for will also help save consumers money," Gascon and Schneiderman said in a statement about the study, reports HuffingtonPost.
yeah i could see having to replace thousands of phones every year due to a kill switched being wrongly used rendering it useless would cost money???

42.4.2014 20:39

So long as this kill switch can be made only for the apple product line, I have no problems with it. :P

You are all welcome to come steal my dumb phone. It still flips up and has no internet.

52.4.2014 21:14

Truly an idiot wrote this article as NO ONE WILL SAVE MONEY simply by being able to "Kill" the device...............ONE STILL HAS TO CAPITALIZE ON THE INSURANCE AND PAY A DEDUCTIBLE regardless if the device is "usable".

This article blows!

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