Ina Fried

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Bicoastal Battle Against Smartphone Theft Gets a British Ally

Political pressure on electronics makers to do more to combat smartphone theft is intensifying.


Shutterstock / Innershadows Photography

In an effort to discourage theft, San Francisco’s District Attorney George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have been spearheading a campaign to convince phone makers to build technology into their devices that prevent stolen smartphones from ever being reactivated.

Now, London Mayor Boris Johnson is joining the “Secure Our Smartphones” initiative.

“Residents and visitors to our city need better protection from the menace of smartphone theft,” Johnson said in a statement last week. “We need the industry to take this issue seriously and come up with a technical solution that can squash the illegal smartphone market that is fueling this crime.”

Gascón and Schneiderman have also garnered support from prosecutors and elected officials in Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota and Nebraska.

Both Apple and Samsung are adding technologies to their latest products to help with the issue.

Apple is adding an “activation lock” option in iOS 7 that would prevent thieves from reactivating a stolen phone, while Samsung has partnered with Absolute Software to add a “kill switch” in the Galaxy S4.

However, more needs to be done, say Gascón and Schneiderman, who met in June with Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and Google to talk about the issue.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work