As smartphone theft becomes more common, Microsoft has decided today to integrate a kill-switch on its line of Windows Phones that would deter thieves from using a stolen smartphone. Microsoft will follow Apple, which has implemented a similar kill-switch technology.
According to district attorneys George Gascón of San Francisco and Eric T. Schneiderman of New York, the rate of thieves snatching smartphones has decreased due to Apple’s kill-switch measures. The brand began implementing what it calls an Activation Lock in its smartphones in September 2013.
The numbers, thus far, have been promising. New York police has cited that there was a 19 percent decrease in stealing iPhones and other Apple devices over a six month timeframe. Police forces in other areas reported similar success, as London reported a 24 percent decrease and San Francisco a 38 percent decrease.
Microsoft has been studying such numbers, which is probably the driving factor behind its decision. Another factor is the deadline set up by CTIA, the Wireless Association that began a Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment to be put into effect by July 2015. Those that sign the commitment promise to use a kill-switch in order to render a smartphone ineffective if it gets into the wrong hands.
The CTIA created the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment for two reasons. Firstly, a federal legislation on regulating smartphone theft could reach the United States Congress. Secondly, smartphone theft has become increasingly vicious as the devices become more expensive and technological.
Microsoft’s executive of US government affairs Fred Humprhies spoke about Microsoft’s confidence of implementing the kill-switch on time to meet the CTIA deadline. “Today we are able to confirm that we will meet these commitments before the CTIA goal of July 2015.”
Currently, not much else is known about just when Microsoft will add its kill-switch technology to its smartphones although newer models will receive the theft blocker, according to Humprhies.
“The new theft deterrent features will be offered as an update for all phones running Windows Phone 8.0 and newer, though availability is subject to mobile operator and phone manufacturer approval,” he added.
In order for users to figure out if they can use the kill-switch once it becomes available on their Windows Phone, they only need to access the “Find My Phone” part of the settings. They can also use a website that Microsoft will launch regarding the kill-switch.