| NEW YORK, April 15
NEW YORK, April 15 Major U.S. wireless carriers
and smartphone makers have agreed to introduce tools to enable
users to lock their devices and wipe them clean of data if
stolen, responding to pressure on the telecommunications
industry to do more to stem theft.
Starting in July 2015, all smartphones manufactured by the
companies will come with free anti-theft tools preloaded on the
devices or ready to be downloaded, according to wireless
association CTIA, which announced the agreement on Tuesday.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San
Francisco District Attorney, George Gascon welcomed the
voluntary agreement but said it fell short of what they have
advocated to prevent theft.
The prosecutors have urged manufacturers and carriers to
carry the tools as a default in their devices, rather than
having users download them.
"While CTIA's decision to respond to our call for action by
announcing a new voluntary commitment to make theft-deterrent
features available on smartphones is a welcome step forward, it
falls short of what is needed to effectively end the epidemic of
smartphone theft," the prosecutors said in a joint statement.
In 2012, 1.6 million Americans were victimized for their
smartphones, according to Schneiderman's office.
The 10 device makers signing the voluntary agreement
included Apple Inc, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd
, Google Inc and HTC America Inc.
The wireless carriers included Verizon Communications Inc
, AT&T Inc, Sprint Corp, T-Mobile US Inc
and U.S. Cellular.
"This flexibility provides consumers with access to the best
features and apps that fit their unique needs while protecting
their smartphones and the valuable information they contain,"
said Steve Largent, chief executive of the CTIA.
The agreement extends individual decisions by Apple and
Samsung to include features in their new mobile software that
require a legitimate owner's ID and password before a phone can
be wiped clean or re-activated after being remotely erased.
(Reporting By Marina Lopes; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)