Thursday, December 12, 2013

New York: NY Attorney General Advocates "Kill Switch" on Smart-phones as Anti-Theft Feature, Not a Good Idea

According to http://www.pressconnect.com, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D-NY), 58, is pressing wireless carriers to put safety over profits in his effort to require anti-theft measures to be installed in smartphones.

For clarification, http://www.pressconnect.com, is a Gannett publication published in Binghamton, NY 13905 with an urban-slanted New York City point of view.  

Attorney General Schneiderman has sent letters  today (December 11) to the nation’s largest wireless carriers questioning the industry’s decision to prohibit Samsung from pre-loading a “kill switch” application. The device can be activated remotely after a smart-phone is stolen, thereby rendering the phone permanently inoperable.

“The epidemic of violent smart-phone theft that is plaguing communities across the country is a national threat that requires a comprehensive solution from all aspects of the industry, including manufacturers and cellphone carriers,” Schneiderman said.

Schneiderman is co-chairman of the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative in concert with San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón and London Mayor Boris Johnson. The group includes prosecutors and police seeking to remove the incentive for stealing smartphones in violent attacks.

More than half of all robberies in San Francisco involve a cellphone. The mayor’s office cites a 27-year old tourist who suffered severe knife wounds to his face and throat last summer after being robbed by two men who stole his iPhone.

In New York, Schneiderman said there was a 40% spike last year in cellphone thefts, sometimes referred to by authorities as “Apple-picking” after the iPhone manufacturer, known for having one of the most expensive smart-phones on the Planet.

COMMENT: I disagree vehemently with Attorney General Schneiderman's proposal.

In the interest of transparency, permit me to include a list of the 100 public officials who support NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's Secure Our Smartphones Initiative (SOSI):

http://www.ag.ny.gov/sos/initiative-members

More transparency. All readers who go to https://www.change.org/petitions/secure-our-smartphones, should be well aware that Secure Our Smart-phones is really about signing a petition in support of forcing smart-phone manufacturers to install a "kill-switch" on smart-phones proposed by NY AG Eric Schneiderman which will render a smart-phone inoperable, adding additional cost to smart-phones themselves.

Although I personally empathize with the victims of smart-phone theft and armed robbery, particularly those who have been injured and/or killed as a result of criminals' efforts to relieve them of a piece of property valued at $400-800.

That being said, many smart-phone owners fail to focus on the fact that they are carrying a sought-after and very valuable item that has an incredible conversion to hard cash.

Although many smart-phone owners fail to focus on the incredible value of a smart-phone, particularly the coveted iPhone, few owners would carry $400-800 in cash on their person in bad neighborhoods, yet fail to focus on the fact that many smart-phones can reach values as high as $800 or even more.

Sadly, almost no manufacturers of smart-phones include in their owners' literature written guidance in how to prudently safeguard the expensive product they openly carry in public, which is an apparent disservice to all owners, particularly the young, who believe their are invincible.

Needless to say, few smart-phone owners naively believe that the theft of their smart-phone is even a remote possibility, which is why the majority of smart-phone owners openly carry their phones in public, almost as if it is a symbol of their status in society.  

Valuable pieces of property (i.e., smart-phones) must be safeguarded constantly as if they represent $400-800 in cash. As a result, please use the following tips for the unschooled when it comes to smart-phone security;

1. NEVER carry a smart-phone in public view where it can be observed by greedy criminals or people down on their luck;

2. If your financial means permit it, INSURE your smart-phone at the time of purchase so you don't run the risk of defending it with your life in an armed robbery;

3. NEVER wear your smart-phone on the outside of your body in plain view of criminals;

4. NEVER walk down a public street conversing on a smart-phone. The reality is that you're concentrating on the conversation and not your safe well-being;

5. NEVER carry an iPad or similar-valued tablet in a case designed for such a product;

6. NEVER leave a smart-phone in your vehicle in clear view. Most criminals will break into the vehicle for the smart-phone;

7. ALWAYS leave your smart-phone under the driver's seat in your vehicle if you are going to be walking in a high-crime area; and

8. Treat your smart-phone like hard cash. To criminals, it is!

Let's be very clear about smart-phone theft and violent crimes stemming from the theft of a smart-phone: Placing a "kill-switch" on a smart-phone will only result in making wireless manufacturers richer, as some panicked users will simply render their phone permanently inoperable thinking there is a robbery-in-progress when that may not be the case!

Finally, smart-phone security is up to the owner and not a "kill-switch." Let's acknowledge where responsibility first rests: With the smart-phone owner, not the government.