iPhone Kill Switch Reducing Theft04:01

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Google and Microsoft are taking Apple's lead and adding "kill switches" to their smartphone systems as evidence mounts that the switch has sharply reduced iPhone thefts.

The kill switch simply lets an owner deactivate a smartphone remotely, making it useless to a thief. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says robberies of Apple products dropped by 19% in his city and 38% in San Francisco following Apple's introduction of its Activation Lock system.

At the same time, thefts of Samsung products increased, suggesting, says Shneiderman, that "criminals have learned to target devices without available kill switches."

There has been a world-wide boom in the theft of mobile devices — Consumer Reports estimates that thieves stole over 3 million smart phones in the US last year, twice the number stolen in 2012.

Currently, kill switches require a uses to "opt in" to activate the function. Proponents say making kill switches a default function and giving customers the choice to "opt out" would make them even more effective.

Bloomberg News' Michael Regan speaks with Here & Now's Robin Young about how to optimize this new technology.


  • Michael Regan, editor-at-large for Bloomberg News. He tweets @Reganonymous.

This segment aired on June 20, 2014.