Print 17 comment(s) - last by Etsp.. on Apr 2 at 4:45 PM

Ninety-nine percent of the study's participants were in favor of having a kill switch feature

A new study says implementing a "kill switch" could save mobile consumers billions of dollars per year.
According to Huffington Post, consumers could stand to save $2.5 billion USD annually with the introduction of a kill switch on smartphones. This breaks down to $500 million in replacing stolen phones and another $2 billion each year in carrier insurance. 
A kill switch allows a consumer to completely disable their smartphone once it is stolen or lost in an effort to prevent access to their personal information (as well as general use). 
The study, which was conducted by William Duckworth, a statistics professor at Creighton University, said that the implementation of a kill switch would prevent the increasing number of annual cell phone thefts because a disabled smartphone is of no use to anyone.  
“If theft becomes a non-issue then only the most paranoid person would pay the extra money for premium insurance to cover theft,” said Duckworth.
In 2012, about 1.6 million cell phones were stolen in the United States. Some police departments around the country have said that the crimes are becoming increasingly violent, even leading to death. 

While many have pushed for kill switches on cell phones -- such as San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman -- the CTIA, which is the wireless industry trade group representing major carriers, opposes the idea.
According to the CTIA, criminals could break into the kill switch feature and disable the phones of regular consumers and even law enforcement. 
However, others believe the CTIA just wants consumers to continue buying cell phone insurance from carriers. The U.S. top four carriers made $7.8 billion USD last year in insurance premiums from their customers, so of course they don't want to lose that income. 
The problem is that carrier insurance is not always the solution consumers expect. Carriers typically use a third-party provider called Asurion, which charges anywhere from $7 to $11 per month and sometimes has high deductibles of about $200 for lost phones, and the "new" phone you get can be refurbished. Sometimes you don't even get the same model you lost. 
Duckworth's study found that 99 percent of participants were in favor of having a kill switch feature. 
In February, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced a bill that would require all smartphones and tablets sold in California to have a kill switch.  

Source: Huffington Post

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Pleas, no kill switches
By atechfan on 4/1/2014 1:25:27 PM , Rating: 5
The last thing we need to do give an outside authority the power to brick our phones. Not just worried about hacking, but the possibility of some consumer watchdog, government agency, or even the carrier disapproving of how I am using my phone and killing it.

On another note, Asurion sucks. I worked for them briefly a decade or so ago. They do everything in their power to avoid honouring the phone protection plan.

RE: Pleas, no kill switches
By Beefmeister on 4/1/2014 2:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
The powers that be could easily disable your account/SIM now. So why would they need to resort to a hardware kill switch?

RE: Pleas, no kill switches
By ritualm on 4/1/2014 9:17:44 PM , Rating: 3
For the same reasons why the Patriot Act was enacted into law in the first place.

RE: Pleas, no kill switches
By atechfan on 4/2/2014 8:51:57 AM , Rating: 2
In that case, your phone still works and can be activated on another carrier, or used on Wi-Fi as a last resort.

RE: Pleas, no kill switches
By FITCamaro on 4/1/2014 2:14:37 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with you on the kill switch.

I had no trouble replacing my phone the one time I needed to. I even got it the next day when at a hotel.

Better ways to do it
By tayb on 4/1/2014 1:38:29 PM , Rating: 2
We don't need this dangerous feature to prevent theft.

Every phone already has several unique addresses assigned to it. Why not just force the carriers to collaborate and maintain a giant list of active phone unique addresses and the user that is assigned to that phone? A phone on that list cannot be activated. Call your carrier, verify your identity, remove the association dissociate yourself from the phone, and remove the phone from the list.

Problem solved. No kill switch necessary. Consumers still saved money.

In reality this list already exists within each cell carrier. They know exactly which phone you are using. It's just the collaboration and activation refusal that needs to be implemented.

In my opinion a much better option than a kill switch.

RE: Better ways to do it
By Flunk on 4/1/2014 1:49:01 PM , Rating: 2
What you're describing could easily be called a kill switch.

RE: Better ways to do it
By Solandri on 4/1/2014 2:16:00 PM , Rating: 3
What he's describing could more accurately be called a key. Just like if you put your key into your car, the doors unlock and the engine starts. But if someone puts their key into your car, they can't unlock the doors and the engine won't start.

Like wise, if you are the person on record as having purchased a specific phone, then the carriers' computers would allow you to attach a service plan to it. If you are not the registered purchaser (or someone the original purchaser transferred ownership to), then you cannot get a service plan for that phone.

They're already collecting all sorts of data on your purchasing, calling, browsing, and travel habits. Might as well put some of it to use helping you if your phone gets stolen.

RE: Better ways to do it
By Etsp on 4/2/2014 4:45:43 PM , Rating: 2
But that system opens up the possibility of carriers monetizing the transfer process. If I want to sell my friend my old phone... "Well, there's a $50 transfer fee for that, and they'll need to sign up on a contract with us." It's my hardware, but they will have all the power regarding whether or not it's more than a brick.

I'm not saying I'm totally against the idea, it's just that there likely won't be a silver bullet to address the issue they're trying to solve.

RE: Better ways to do it
By tayb on 4/1/2014 4:44:40 PM , Rating: 2
How so? The only thing this does is prevent phones from being activated. How is this a kill switch?

It would also seemingly satisfy both sides of the aisle in that we aren't adding much regulation to private industries, aren't expanding the size or power of the government, and are saving consumers billions annually which can be redistributed to other areas of the economy.

RE: Better ways to do it
By Belegost on 4/1/2014 7:43:23 PM , Rating: 2
As you said, this already partially exists, each carrier has blacklist. But sharing that list won't help much.

The problem is that the market for the stolen phones is not here in the US, there is a big underground trade in stolen phones to be repackaged and resold in developing nations, especially South America. Those carriers would not be subject to this list.

So the need is for something that can affect the phone directly.

The Huffington Post says?
By Cerin218 on 4/1/2014 2:21:37 PM , Rating: 1

RE: The Huffington Post says?
By Cerin218 on 4/1/2014 2:23:03 PM , Rating: 2
A liberal propaganda site says that putting a kill switch in your phone is a good idea? I bet the Party of Tyranny would LOVE that power. Not like the NSA isn't already being illegally misused.

RE: The Huffington Post says?
By SeeManRun on 4/1/2014 8:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
It actually looks like they just reported on a study about the findings. You can read the study here:

They are doing the same thing as Dailytech, except they cited the original, and Dailytech cited the Huffington Post.

By Wolfpup on 4/1/2014 2:13:00 PM , Rating: 2
Both let you configure them to remotely disable them, and both have completely encrypted storage, so both are bricked if stolen, if a password is set up.

By coburn_c on 4/1/2014 4:15:27 PM , Rating: 2
This is whitewashing to cover the true intent of the bill. Cell companies lose tons of money on subsidized devices bought with fake info and turned over on Craigslist. The implication that this is for the people is insulting.

Their switch will be broken and on XDA in about 5 minutes.

I don't understand
By spamreader1 on 4/1/2014 6:18:00 PM , Rating: 2
How so many people can lose their phones...
I lost my cell phone 1 time since my first 3W moto. I didn't put it in my pants pocket, I put it in my jacket pocket and forgot it was there for a good 2 minutes.

Then again, I don't understand how someone can lose their car in a parking lot, or their keys...So I doubt I'll ever truly understand until I get senile.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
Related Articles

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki