Based on data from the Federal Communications Commission, nearly one out of three robberies in the U.S. is phone theft. In 2012 alone, stolen and lost mobile units, primarily smartphones, cost customers over $30 billion. A lawyer's office also said 1.6 Americans have become victims of crimes in 2012 because of their smartphones.
Beefing up the security features of mobile phones is one of the best things a manufacturer can provide its loyal consumers. Not only is such a strategy to gain more following, but also that could mean a proof of its goodwill to the faithful ones.
Finally, Samsung has taken that step starting with its Galaxy S5 models, following an announcement by several U.S. law enforcement authorities demanding from manufacturers the creation of kill switches to fight against rising smartphone theft all over America.
"Samsung takes the issue of smartphone theft very seriously, and we are continuing to enhance our security and anti-theft solutions," Samsung said in a statement.
The company said the anti-theft features -- "Reactivation Lock" and "Find My Mobile" -- can be activated for free. These features will block unauthorized attempt to reset the device, thus deterring widespread theft of mobile devices. The features will be pre-installed on units sold by wireless carriers U.S. Cellular and Verizon, which will be on sale starting next week. Meanwhile, it will be available in India on April 11. The features can be downloaded as well.
Samsung Galaxy S5 though also boasts of a fingerprint scanner on its home button that can protect data, too.
A bill has been filed by legislators in California, seeking to require all mobile devices that will be shipped or sold in to the country to have anti-theft features starting in 2015. The move could be the very first legislation of such nature in the U.S., reports said. New York, Minnesota and Illinois have considered and introduced similar bills in the two houses of Congress.
Samsung officials approached the office of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon sometime in July and told that major carriers have shown resistance to the use of kill switches.
In fact, a trade group of wireless providers, CTIA-The Wireless Association, claimed that a permanent kill switch has serious risks, which include possible vulnerability to hackers. The hackers could disable these devices and lock out not only individuals' mobile devices but also devices used by government entities such as the Homeland Security and Department of Defense, among others.
On Friday, Atty. Gascon, along with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, released a joint statement that Samsung's move to push with the kill switches only goes to show that the wireless industry can truly work hand in hand with authorities to ensure consumer safety. They have also set a deadline in June for manufacturers to come up with solutions to curtail mobile phone theft.
"More work needs to be done to ensure that these solutions come standard on every device, but these companies have done the right thing by responding to our call for action," the prosecutors said.
"No family should lose a mother, a father, a son or a daughter for their phone. Manufacturers and carriers need to put public safety before corporate profits and stop this violent epidemic, which has put millions of smartphone users at risk," they added.
Recall that it was Apple that made the first move to come up with an iPhone "Activation Lock" security feature in 2013.