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Wireless Carriers Reject Smartphone Antitheft Technology

The nation’s largest mobile carriers have rejected an offer by Samsung Electronics to install technology designed to make its smartphones inoperable if stolen or lost. San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said that AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, United States Cellular, Sprint, and T-Mobile US declined Samsung’s proposal to preload its phones with Absolute Software’s LoJack antitheft software. Gascon is the latest US public official to demand such technology as a deterrent to smartphone theft. Wireless carriers claim hackers could use kill switches to disable phones. However, the problem is too significant to ignore, say Gascon and other law enforcement officials. The US Federal Communications Commission says about 1 in 3 robberies in the country involve phone theft, which—along with lost handsets—cost consumers roughly $30 billion in 2012. After reviewing e-mail provided by Samsung, Gascon said, “These emails suggest that the carriers are rejecting a technological solution so they can continue to shake down their customers for billions of dollars in (theft) insurance premiums.” “I’m incensed.” CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for wireless providers, says it is working on a national stolen phone database that would prevent stolen phones from being reactivated within the US. Apple offers its Find My iPhone application, which lets consumers locate and remotely wipe their phones. (Tech Crunch)(Associated Press @ SF Gate)

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