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It seems obvious, in retrospect, that the mass adoption of smartphones would lead to a vast increase in muggings: people are carrying $600 devices on them, after all. Indeed, that's exactly what happened, and iPhones were especially popular. (Those white earbuds are a dead giveaway.)
We've covered a handful of proposed laws, at the state and federal level, that would mandate on-by-default (opt-out) "kill switches" in smartphones. The idea is that if this is a nearly universal feature, thieves are going to give up -- after all, it's really hard for a casual thief to flip a locked iPhone.
Apple's new Activation Lock was introduced in iOS 7, and is already providing proof that a kill switch bill is a good idea.
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Apple introduced iOS 7 last fall, and buried under the massive graphical update was the "kill switch" that lawmakers have been hoping for: Apple's Activation Lock.
How did it affect theft? According to The New York Times, comparing data from six months before and after the feature was added:
As for New York City, Apple-related robberies dropped 19 percent and grand larcenies of Apple products dropped 29 percent for the first five months of 2014, year-over-year.
Meanwhile, Samsung theft went up 51 percent during the same time period. (Samsung added a kill switch in April.)
Apple introduced its switch last fall. Samsung added one in April. What about everyone else?
According to the Times, Google is adding a kill switch to the next Android update. Microsoft will add one for Windows Phones as well. And a conglomerate of carriers and manufacturers, earlier this year, pledged to include free anti-theft software by next summer.
As for legislation, Minnesota passed a mandatory kill-switch bill in May, while the Times notes that California's bill is awaiting Governor Jerry Brown's signature. With a state or two on board, and the early statistics showing that kill switches work, it seems like universal kill switches are a foregone conclusion at this point.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.
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