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Allowing smartphone “kill switch” could save money, but at what cost?

A study conducted by Creighton University professor William Duckworth, Ph.D. suggests that adding a Kill Switch to all smartphones might save $2.6 billion in the U.S. annually. A Kill Switch would allow victims of theft to “kill” the phone and render it unusable. This is supposed to be a deterrent for criminals.

One concern about creating such a feature might be who has their finger on the switch? If it is given to the carriers, that might give them the ability to demand that their customers to pay their bills on-time or they won’t just stop providing service, they’ll kill the phone completely. How long after it is created before the NSA demands access to it on the grounds of stopping remote detonation of bombs by terrorists?

I believe that the $2.6 billion that would reportedly be saved is overestimated. Instead of selling the phone, thieves will sell its valuable parts. For a hacker who is looking to destroy information, the kill switch is a dream come true. It would allow him to easily incapacitate a smartphone and its data. A vengeful ex would love the kill switch, as it’s an easy way to exact revenge. Simply activate the switch and all valuable data is gone.

Do you think that implementing such a policy would help or hurt the end consumer and why?


3 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Re carriers: there would likely be private property issues there.
    Re criminals: AFAIK there’s really not much of a market for phone parts. Just check the sale prices on ebay for not working devices.

  2. This seems like it will pretty much fail as soon as its introduced. It can also become a negative for people, as a way to get them to upgrade less than 1 year old devices. Who knows, anything is possible.

  3. this sounds like what blackberry protect can do from any computer capable with internet and your blackberry ID.

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