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Why Cell Phone Carriers Are Against A Kill Switch For Stolen Phones

Lawmakers have been pushing cell phone makers to implement anti-theft software that can remotely deactivate a stolen phone, but carriers don't like the idea very much.

[Image: Flickr user Johan Larsson]

San Francisco and New York lawmakers have been pushing hardware makers like Samsung to provide anti-theft software for cell phones that would allow owners to remotely deactivate a phone should it get stolen, rendering it useless. But according to the San Francisco district attorney, George Gascón, carriers like Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint aren't crazy about the idea of implementing such a "kill switch." Why? Because they'd lose money.

Gascón says emails he obtained between a Samsung executive and a software developer indicate carriers don't want anti-theft software for fear it would eat into the profits those carriers generate from selling phone insurance programs. Verizon, for example, sells a total equipment coverage plan that covers loss and theft for $10 a month. Although that doesn't sound like much, it will amount to $240 over the course of a standard two-year contract.

The carriers have argued against a kill switch anti-theft feature, citing abusive hackers as a potential concern.

Gascón tells the New York Times: "We have repeatedly requested that the carriers take steps to protect their customers. We are now evaluating what course of action will be necessary to force them to prioritize the safety of their customers over additional money in their pockets."

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