Samsung has been working on a smartphone with a built-in feature to disable the device if it is ever stolen. Doing this could reduce smartphone theft in America.
Samsung began working on this project a few years ago because of a spike in cell phone thefts in the United States. Smartphones have high resale values, which makes them an attractive target. Setting up a “kill switch” to make a phone useless after it is stolen would give thieves little reason to seek out phones.
Mark Leno, a state senator in California, proposed a bill in February that would require all smartphones and tablets sold in California to have kill switches. These kill switches would have to be engaged by the customer, so there is no risk of killing someone else’s phone for malicious reasons.
Think of this like cancelling a credit card after it gets stolen. Once it is no longer worth anything to anyone else, it becomes far less desirable.
“This is a crime of convenience. If we end the convenience, we end the crime,” said Leno in a recent interview.
Verizon Wireless and U.S. Cellular plan on offering the Galaxy S5 with the kill switch when it is released.
There is one concern in this process, and that is the profits phone companies will lose from these kill switches. The top four phone providers in the country earn $7.8 billion a year from insurance plans, and an estimated $2.5 billion of that would drop after the kill switches are installed. Some experts say that nearly half of the profits in the smartphone industry come from lost or stolen phones.
Despite the potential loss of revenue, Samsung continues to push for better smartphone security to combat raising crime rates.