NYAG Schneiderman calls for implementation of smartphone kill switch


Lower Manhattan, NEW YORK - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Monday that legislation aimed at preventing smartphone theft has been introduced to the House of Representatives. The legislation, named the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, would require smartphone manufacturers to equip phones with a kill switch that would allow them to be rendered useless if stolen. Schneiderman also announced that NYPD commissioner Bratton is joining, and taking a leadership role in, the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative.

New York Attorney General Schneiderman announced progress in joint efforts to prevent smartphone theft. Photo by Dean Graham.

New York Congressman José E. Serrano introduced the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act to Congress last month. A similar bill was announced last month by Senator Amy Klobuchar.

“In 2012, 1.6 million Americans were victimized for their smartphones,” according to the S.O.S. page on Schneiderman’s website.

Bratton described smartphone theft as “the largest growing crime problem in America.”

The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act's kill switch mandate would ensure that victims of smartphone theft could remotely disable the stolen devices, rendering them useless to thieves. The goal of the act is to reduce smartphone and tablet theft, which is known as “Apple Picking.”

Smartphone manufacturers already have the ability to install these kill switches, according to Schneiderman. These companies have been talking with S.O.S. representatives since June, and some have already taken steps to deter smartphone theft. However, manufacturers have yet to implement the kill switch, which is why S.O.S. is pushing for a law that would require them to do so.

“It’s a shame that we now have to go to legislation,” Richard Aborn, the President of the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, said.

“The corporate greed that is driving this problem has to come to an end,” Bratton said in reference to smartphone manufacturers, who are capable of solving the problem of smartphone theft but have chosen not to do so.