Apple Joins Tech Rivals, Carriers to Implement Smartphone Anti-Theft Measures

Earlier this afternoon Apple, along with other tech companies joined forces with wireless carriers to pledge their commitment for future anti-theft measures for smartphones, starting next year in the U.S., reports Re/code:

The commitment, announced Tuesday, has the backing of the five largest U.S. cellular carriers as well as the key players in the smartphone device and operating system markets, a list that includes Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung.

Those signing the pledge agree that devices going on sale after July 2015 will have the ability to remotely wipe data and be rendered inoperable, if the user chooses, to prevent the device from being reactivated without the owner’s permission. Lost or stolen devices could later be restored if recovered. The carriers also agreed they would facilitate these measures.

Although today’s announcement shows collaboration between companies and carriers, California state Senator Mark Leno, who is in favour of a proposed mandatory kill-switch law, says the agreement is not good enough, saying “The wireless industry today has taken an incremental yet inadequate step to address the epidemic of smartphone theft.”

Apple’s iOS 7 has a security feature already in place known as Activation Lock. If a lost or stolen iPhone is restored (even through DFU mode), it will only activate if the owner’s iTunes Account password is entered. Otherwise, the device is rendered useless.

In Canada, the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association (CWTA) launched a national stolen cellphone blacklist program last September to combat device theft. Blacklisted IMEI numbers won’t work on Canadian cell networks.