June 21, 2014

The Mindful Patriot's Comment: While this article says that the kill switch is for stopping theft, one can only imagine that government when confronted with a mass protest or civil disobedience, would want the ability to stop live feeds, texts and calls from showing the reality of the situation and to stop further recruitment to the scene. This is a strategy used in war to thwart the enemies planning and staging operations. Those who control communications, control the battlefield. You all should be very concerned. 

Google and Microsoft are planning to incorporate a “kill switch” technology into the next versions of their smartphone operating systems as evidence mounts that such features actively deter thieves.

Under growing pressure from public officials, the companies have said they will add mechanisms to remotely disable their devices, similar to one introduced by Apple last year.

Google will add a “factory reset protection solution” to its next Android system, the company said in statement Friday. Microsoft’s Vice President for US Government Affairs Fred Humphries in the meantime said his company will offer a new anti-theft mechanism in the next system update for the phones which operate its software, including those made by Nokia.

“With these additional features, we’re hopeful that technology – as part of a broader strategy – can help to further reduce incentives for criminals to steal smartphones in the first place,” said Humphries in a blog post.

Apple has already introduced a kill-switch for its iPhones, adding an ‘activation lock’ and ‘delete phone’ options to its Find My iPhone app back in September 2013. As a result, thefts of Apple smartphones in New York fall by 19 percent in the first five months of 2014 and by 38 percent and 24 percent in San Francisco and London respectively.

In the meantime some experts worry that software methods aren’t good enough, since hackers would be able to hijack a kill signal. And if a phone is turned off or in flight mode then it might not receive the kill signal at all. This is why some legislators are pushing for a hard kill switch which instead of rendering the phone unusable to an unauthorized user, would make it permanently unusable once stolen.


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