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TMCNet:  The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn., Rachel Kilroy column [The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn. :: ]

[April 19, 2014]

The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn., Rachel Kilroy column [The Knoxville News-Sentinel, Tenn. :: ]

(Knoxville News-Sentinel (TN) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) April 20--I have never had my smartphone stolen, but at least three times a day I am convinced it has been taken from me as I dramatically search my apartment for it. Because of this I was intrigued when I heard about "Kill Switch." In 2015, Kill Switch, a new anti-theft technology, will become mandatory for most smartphones. Kill Switch will allow users to remotely disable their smartphones and completely wipe out their data.


The CTIA-The Wireless Association, an industry trade group, and participating wireless companies announced the "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment" in a press release on April 15.

Google, Apple, Sprint, Samsung and Verizon Wireless are just a few of the major companies in the United States that have agreed to participate. New models of smartphones first manufactured after July 2015 for retail sale will have the anti-theft tool at no cost to the consumer. When activated, it will erase personal information such as photos, emails and contacts, then lock the phone so it can't be used without a password. The tool will also prevent the phone from being reactivated. If you're like me, you'll become anxious and want to flip the switch every time you lose your phone; thankfully, the data is retrievable.

While this commitment seems like a good idea on the surface, it won't end smartphone theft. Once this technology comes out, criminals will know that their time with the stolen cell phone is limited. So what is stopping them from just throwing it away and stealing another? There is no way to catch the criminal, and there is no guarantee that the original user will be reunited with their device.

Instead of using Kill Switch, companies should create a tool that will use a phone's GPS or serial number to track down the exact location of the phone. By doing this, the criminal would be apprehended, and the user would get the phone back. While some would argue that it would create more work for police and be a waste of time, theft is still theft.

This is a much larger problem than people realize, and while it may seem insignificant when compared to larger issues this country faces, it still needs to be dealt with.

There are a few ways you can protect yourself from cellphone theft without Kill Switch: -Cerberus: Available on Google Play for Android, this app is free for a one-week trial and allows you to locate and track the smartphone, wipe the internal memory and SD card, lock the device with a code, record audio from the microphone and get a list of last calls sent and received.

-Prey: Available for both iPhone and iPad, this app is free and allows you to track and locate your lost or stolen device using geolocation. The app will also allow you to trigger an alarm even if the volume is off, take pictures using the built-in camera and also display a tailored alert message on the screen.

___ (c)2014 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) Visit the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.) at www.knoxnews.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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