The CTIA wireless association announced today that it has partnered with giant technology companies to curb and, if possible, to eliminate smartphone thefts in the U.S. According to the CTIA, the safety and security of consumers are the top priority of the new initiative, dubbed the "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment."
The list of companies includes Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Nokia, Motorola Mobility, HTC America, Huawei Device USA, and Asurion.
Under the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment, phones manufactured after July 2015 will offer anti-theft tools at no cost to consumers.
The security features will include remote wiping of user data, auto locking, and reactivation prevention. These and other security features will be preloaded or can be downloadable, the CTIA said. The commitment is essentially divided into two parts - one part for device manufacturers and another for wireless network operators.
Each device manufacturer and operating system signatory of Part I of this “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” agrees that new models of smartphones first manufactured after July 2015 for retail sale in the United States will offer, at no cost to consumers, a baseline anti-theft tool that is preloaded or downloadable on wireless smartphones that provides the connected capability to:
1. Remote wipe the authorized user’s data (i.e., erase personal info that is added after purchase such as contacts, photos, emails, etc.) that is on the smartphone in the event it is lost or stolen.
2. Render the smartphone inoperable to an unauthorized user (e.g., locking the smartphone so it cannot be used without a password or PIN), except in accordance with FCC rules for 911 emergency communications, and if available, emergency numbers programmed by the authorized user (e.g., “phone home”).
3. Prevent reactivation without authorized user’s permission (including unauthorized factory reset attempts) to the extent technologically feasible (e.g., locking the smartphone as in 2 above).
4. Reverse the inoperability if the smartphone is recovered by the authorized user and restore user data on the smartphone to the extent feasible (e.g., restored from the cloud).
In addition to this baseline anti-theft tool, consumers may use other technological solutions, if available for their smartphones.
Each network operator signatory of Part II to the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” commits to permit the availability and full usability of a baseline anti-theft tool to be preloaded or downloadable on smartphones as specified in this commitment.