Discuss: Cell Phone Kill Switches

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August 15, 2014 at 06:00:44
Specs: Windows 7, 1.4 GHz / 5610 MB
Hi all,

This week's poll question is about news of a bill heading to the California Governor's desk that will mandate all cell phones need to implement "kill switches" in order to help prevent theft. Discuss here if you think this is something that should be mandatory, and, if you like, the poll results themselves.


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August 15, 2014 at 12:51:13
Mandatory? Should it be mandatory that all exterior doors and windows come with locks? Will drivers be ticketed if they don't lock their vehicles? Will the password police be checking our phones to ensure that we lock them when not in use?

Seems to me that it should be up to the user, not the manufacturer/service provider, to ensure that the phone becomes unusable if lost/stolen. Odds are that users that don't already protect their phones now aren't going to have any clue as to how to use the "mandatory" feature once the phone is lost anyway.

Do I think the lock/wipe feature is a good idea? Absolutely! Do I think manufacturers/service providers should be forced to provide it? No! Let the market place sort it out.

My daughter "lost" her iPhone a few years ago. We had already activated Find My iPhone so we were able to locate it, lock it, watch it move down the street near her college, sit in one spot for a few hours and then move to another spot (a parking lot, according to Google) where it stayed until the battery died the next day. Before it died, we wiped it and put a message on the screen to call me if it was found.

Three months later a woman found it in a snow bank in that same parking lot. She let it dry out, charged it up and powered it on. When she saw the "lost phone" message on the screen, she called me and we made arrangements for my daughter to pick up the phone.

So yes, I think the feature is great and I know it protected my daughter's information because we were able to lock it and wipe it, probably causing the first person who found/stole it to toss it since it was a brick to them. I'm still thankful to the nice lady who went to the trouble to charge it up, turn it on and then call me. Even if she originally planned to keep the phone, she could have just tossed it once she found that it was locked. Instead, she did the right thing and called me.

message edited by DerbyDad03

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August 15, 2014 at 14:29:43
Somewhat inclined to agree with "Derbydad03".

And nice to know that he managed to utilise the Apple find my phone etc. and also disable (lock) the phone - and even nicer to know there was a lady who dun the right thing...

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August 15, 2014 at 23:46:52
I'm not sure that I would agree with the analogy. How about "Should it be mandatory for a motor vehicle to be fitted with seat belts?"

A kill switch is something that the average buyer might not think about and so it wouldn't affect their buying decision. But if it was mandatory, and the manual explained clearly how to use it, they would probably think it a great idea.

If a potential thief knows that stealing a phone is of no use then it will save a lot of police time and potentially prevent a lot of muggings and other violent crime.

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August 18, 2014 at 14:03:18
Here's the counter argument, for anyone interested: https://www.techdirt.com/articles/2...

How To Ask Questions The Smart Way

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August 26, 2014 at 16:07:11
Interesting write up on Tom's:

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