Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung have joined AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile US, US Cellular and Verizon Wireless to protect the consumers from phone theft.
The technology companies have committed to providing a “baseline anti-theft tool” at no cost to consumers that is preloaded on devices or downloadable.
The tools will enable the remote wiping of user data; make devices inoperable by unauthorised users (via password or PIN); prevent the reactivation of devices without user permission; and reverse inoperability and restore data if the smartphone is returned to its owner.
The mobile operators are committed to permitting the anti-theft tool to be preloaded or downloaded to devices.
Some device makers already offer similar functionality. Apple’s iOS 7 includes Activation Lock, which stops a stolen device being reactivated even if it is reset, while a kill switch is already built into Samsung’s flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone.
The calls for such technology aren’t limited to the US either: South Korea’s ministry responsible for ICT reportedly told the country’s smartphone manufacturers this week that they must load a ‘kill switch’ in all new devices.