US Carriers Respond to Accusations of Denied Pre-Installed Kill Switch Options

December 12, 2013 - Written By Ray Greer

We now have an interesting game of he said she said going on. The “he” being New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the “she” being U.S. carriers. The topic of discussion? The smart phone theft prevention known as the “Kill Switch.”

In early November 2013 was when we first started to hear about an option for the “Kill Switch” to be installed by Samsung. The “Kill Switch” software, would allow victims of smart phone theft, to pretty much brick their phone after it’s been stolen. The problem with the option back then seemed to be U.S. carriers. The New York Times released an article about the New York DA, who had teamed up with California District Attorney, George Gascon, to form a coalition called “Save Our Smartphones.” According to the article, U.S. carriers were not supporting the idea.

The speculated reason for the unsupportive carriers, was money. It was thought that if this “kill switch” software was pre-installed onto the smart phone, than carriers would lose money in the insurance department. Makes sense, if you haven’t heard of the many apps that allow for similar protection. In an interesting twist, we now have U.S. carriers, including Verizon, and Sprint so far, saying that all of this is completely not true. To a point.

The Big Four Carriers Look To Further Crack Down on Stolen Phones

After all of the news of the failed attempt by Samsung and the SOS Coalition broke, New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman sent out a letter. The letter was sent to the executives of U.S. carriers, and asked the important question of why? Why won’t the carriers allow for Samsung to install a “Kill Switch.” Is it because of the insurance companies that are offered by carriers, like Asurion or monetary ties to CTIA?

Well according to the statement from Verizon to Reuters, that they haven’t even been given the option to install the “Kill Switch” software by Samsung or any manufacturer. Verizon also clarified that they would happily support the option if ever they are offered such a thing. Sprint took it a step further when spokeswoman Crystal Davis said they have been working with this idea for a while, with a few different manufacturers. Davis also made sure to state that there are still “numerous concerns and technical details…” that need to be worked out.

We mentioned the CTIA earlier, if you don’t really know who they are, that’s fine, they are just a trade group who represents U.S. carriers through this whole process. More specifically, they have been referred to by T-Mobile and AT&T when it comes to any questions regarding the “Kill Switch.” The only thing so far that CTIA has accomplished, is make the whole situation more suspicious and confusing. In the response to the “Kill Switch”, CTIA stayed a bit hazy, only saying that any accusations that the companies they represent are unwilling to work with this idea, is not true.

The CTIA also said that U.S. carriers just want to avoid a “trap door” situation that the more tech savvy criminal could take advantage of.

Even though there are already apps you could use that will do similar things as the “kill switch”, would you be concerned that tech criminals might take advantage of pre-installed kill switches? Also who do you think is telling the truth here, CTIA and the U.S. carriers, or S.O.S. Coalition?