The CTIA-The Wireless Association just revealed its Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment policy. It states that anyone who signs the commitment is promising to offer a “kill switch” to buyers at no additional cost.
The “kill switch” was a hotly debated anti-theft tool that’s been stirring up trouble between the CTIA and lawmakers. The CTIA comprises the vast majority of all the wireless network carriers in the country, which means you’ll likely encounter the kill-switch feature should your phone ever be lost or stolen.
According to official statements, the CTIA says that the feature is a rough but “final solution” to stop security threats.
Not too long ago, the CTIA seemed on the fence about installing a kill switch, but the organization has clearly changed its tune. A number of lawmakers and government agencies have long praised the benefits of such a feature, but the CTIA held back until now.
It appears that the association has finally come on board and understands that it’s going to be the best approach, at least for now, to discourage the theft of smartphones and the sensitive information inside them.
Technology is constantly changing and improving, but will this move entail?
Do you solemnly swear …
As the first part of the commitment, developers and manufacturers are mandated to provide the kill switch at no additional cost. The second half is targeted to carriers, who also need to agree not to stop their customers from downloading the feature.
You’ve probably already seen or used similar features such as the Google Android Device Manager, which enables the user to wipe a device virtually clean from a smartphone. But what if it’s the smartphone that needs wiping?
The kill switch offers the option to make the device inoperable simply by freezing the functions (with the exception of emergency calls, which fall under a different law), and the phone can’t be reactivated. Factory resets won’t save it, and only the owner will be able to make any changes.
However, according to the CTIA, this can be reversed via the owner. It will only require “proper credentials.” That’s the real game-changer here, because it potentially saves owners big money on phone replacements.
A volunteer commitment
Keep in mind that this is a voluntary opt-in feature. Most manufacturers and carriers have readily signed on, and are offering the feature to consumers.
As a consumer, you’re not required to use it, though. While it’s currently a downloadable feature, it’s getting a lot of support from lawmakers across the country, so it might eventually become a default feature on every device.