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Your Smartphone May Soon Have a “Kill Switch”

Just about everyone these days has a smart phone, and while retailers and us consumers love them, but law enforcement agencies across the country they are becoming a big headache.  According to the Federal Communications Commission, about 40% of robberies in major metro areas involve a cell phone… many involving violence.

The FCC in conjunction with Congress have been trying to come up with deterrents to this type of crime.  Lawmaker, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, in partnership with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, launched a “Secure Our Smartphones” initiative, encouraging the mobile communications industry to adopt a technology that would allow users to disable functionality of their smart phones remotely.  There is hope that mobile phone manufacturers will adopt this “Kill Switch” initiative with the intent of eliminating the incentives for criminals to target and sell stolen smartphones.

“…I still haven’t figured out how to use most of the features on my phone,”

The real problem with the “Kill switch” is the fact that the technology is not simple. It’s something that has to be built deep into the phone’s insides, to ensure that a simple reset of the device wouldn’t cancel it out. It seems that in order to make the Kill Switch work, it needs to be user friendly… I still haven’t figured out how to use most of the features on my phone, while still being able to resist attempts to defeat it.

A major problem I can foresee with a Kill Switch app on my phone is that it would need to be reversible in case I accidentally activated it.  With that being said, if you can undo an accidental activation of this Kill Switch, then hackers would naturally be able to defeat it.

There is no doubt that remote locking and data wiping features play a key role in protecting personal information stored on mobile devices, but a larger initiative to dissuade mobile phone-related crimes is also crucial. Until a law like the Kill Switch proposal, or something like it, is enacted, it is important that we all remain diligent in keeping our information private, protecting our identity and finances, and making our phones as uninviting to thieves as possible.


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