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Legislation would require phone 'kill switch'

Feb. 21, 2014 - 06:00AM   |  
By ANDY MEDICI   |   Comments
A bill would require mobile phones to include the capabilty to remotely erase data in case of loss or theft.
A bill would require mobile phones to include the capabilty to remotely erase data in case of loss or theft. (Marine Corps)

A “kill switch” that would erase all personal data from a phone if its stolen would be built into all smartphones, according to legislation introduced Feb. 13.

Such a law could allow agencies to breathe easier about mobile security, according to at least one mobility advocate.

Steve O'Keeffe, founder of public-private IT partnership MeriTalk, said the legislation will help agencies move forward with bring-your-own-device (BYOD) programs

“This should help put BYOD on speed-dial across the federal government,” he said.

The Smartphone Theft Prevent Act was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii to help combat cell phone theft and prevent identity fraud.

“Cell phone theft has become a big business for thieves looking to cash in on these devices and any valuable information they contain, costing consumers more than $30 billion every year and endangering countless theft victims,” Klobuchar said in a statement.

She said the legislation would help protect personal information and would deter robberies by lowering the value of stolen cell phones that had its data erased.

The legislation would also require technology to render the phone permanently inoperable to anyone but the owner as well as prevent its reactivation.

“Victims of cell phone theft should be able to fight back so they aren’t victimized again through data and identity theft. And thieves should know that whenever they steal a cell phone, they won’t be able to use it or sell it,” Mikulski said.

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