New York asks wireless carriers why they oppose antitheft switch: NYT

Wed Dec 11, 2013 3:24am EST

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman talks about Major League Baseball's policies against harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation during a news conference in New York, July 16, 2013. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman talks about Major League Baseball's policies against harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation during a news conference in New York, July 16, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Brendan McDermid

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(Reuters) - New York State attorney general is investigating why American cellphone carriers are yet to support antitheft software on Samsung smartphones, raising questions about possible coordination among the biggest carriers, the New York Times reported.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to top executives of AT&T Inc, Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile US Inc and U.S. Cellular, seeking information about their decision to prevent Samsung from featuring a "kill switch" in carrier-approved smartphones, the newspaper said.

The "kill switches" on mobile devices render them inoperable when stolen, eliminating any incentive for theft.

"If carriers are colluding to prevent theft-deterrent features from being pre-installed on devices as means to sell more insurance products, they are doing so at the expense of public safety and putting their customers in danger," Schneiderman said in a statement, the New York Times reported. (r.reuters.com/xux35v)

Schneiderman's office and the five carriers could not be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular U.S. business hours.

In June, Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón met with representatives of Apple, Google Inc's smartphone maker Motorola Mobility, Samsung Electronics and Microsoft Corp to urge them to install the switches to disable stolen smartphones.

Samsung has said it was working on an antitheft solution with the carriers. But last month, Gascón said emails between a Samsung executive and a software developer indicated that the carriers were unwilling to allow Samsung to load the antitheft software on its phones, the NY Times said.

Samsung could not be reached for comment by Reuters.

(Reporting by Chris Peters and Rohit T.K. in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane)

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Comments (2)
JohnSellers wrote:
The kill switch issue is interesting, but there are even better ways to improve device safety. A friend had an iPad stolen and was told the location service was not good enough to locate his device precisely enough to recover it.

With relatively minor changes to the method of recovery, the device in question could be located within inches with the right use of current technology.

For example, any device that has location capabilities using GPS or cell tower capabilities, could be approached close enough to use portable ground based responders to simulate GPS satellites or call towers. Because of the much increased accuracy of local triangulation, the device’s location will be determined within inches relative to the local responders. The responders could be standard equipment in Police cars.

If one can install a kill switch then one can just as easily install anti-theft precision location services.

Dec 11, 2013 4:42am EST  --  Report as abuse
Ounbbl wrote:
American greed, stupidity and arrogance.

Dec 11, 2013 6:23pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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