California smartphone ‘kill switch’ bill passes state legislature

By Cody Lee on Aug 11, 2014

Earlier this year, California Senator Mark Leno introduced a new bill that would require cellphone makers to install ‘kill switches’ in all of their handsets, rendering them inoperable when stolen. The move comes as smartphone thefts continue to rise in major US cities.

Unsurprisingly, Leno’s bill won Senate approval by a vote of 27-8 today, meaning that it’s just one step away from becoming law in the state of California. All it needs now is Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, and device manufacturers will have essentially a year to comply… Read More


Activation Lock helps curb iPhone theft in New York, London and San Francisco

By Joe Rossignol on Jun 19, 2014

You may remember stories from a few years ago that described how iPhone theft was becoming a serious problem. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg even claimed that iPhone thefts had contributed to an overall rise in crime in New York City in 2012. The problem prompted Apple to team up with Google, HTC and others to help put anti-theft measures in place on smartphones.

Apple’s own anti-theft measures appear to be working, as The New York Times reports that police in New York, San Francisco and London are finally seeing a decline in theft of the iPhone. The introduction of Activation Lock on iOS 7 has seen iPhone robberies drop 38 percent in San Francisco, 24 percent in London and 19 percent in New York, based on the six months before and after Apple released the feature…  Read More


Proposed CA bill would require antitheft tech in smartphones

By Cody Lee on Feb 8, 2014

The New York Times is reporting that California State Senator Mark Leno plans to introduce a bill that would require all cell phones sold in the state to include antitheft technology. He hopes to curb smartphone thefts—a major problem in larger cities.

The bill is being co-sponsored by San Francisco DA George Gascón, which isn’t surprising considering he’s long been pushing for Apple and other manufacturers to build ‘kill switches’ in their devices. And if it passes, it could go into effect as early as next year… Read More


San Francisco DA wants Apple to enable Activation Lock by default on all iPhones

By Cody Lee on Dec 19, 2013

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón released survey results yesterday that he says makes an argument for Apple to enable its Activation Lock security feature on all iPhones. The DA has been publicly leading the charge for a solution to rising cell phone thefts.

Gascón’s survey indicated that 78% of respondents who owned an iPhone have enabled the security feature, and according to him, that’s a clear sign that Apple should begin enabling this tech on all of its phones as a standard. He believes that it should be completely ‘opt out.’ Read More


Considerate iPhone thief mails 1000 handwritten contacts to owner

By Cody Lee on Nov 26, 2013

It’s hard to imagine how someone could call a person who stole your iPhone ‘considerate,’ but that’s exactly how some media outlets are referring to a certain Chinese pickpocket. The thief took a man’s iPhone during a shared cab ride.

The reason why some are calling the criminal considerate is that shortly after stealing the handset, he mailed the owner a list of his contacts. And this wasn’t simply a computer printout, he hand wrote over 1000 contacts–11 pages worth… Read More


Stealing iPhones is more profitable than crack for San Francisco’s pro thieves

By Ed Sutherland on Aug 21, 2013

We’ve always held that the iPhone can be like a drug, its users addicted to just one more app, just one more high score. Now comes word from the horse’s mouth, so to speak: criminals. Theft of the iPhone and other cellphones is increasing in popularity with criminals who once sold crack cocaine.

Turns out, a new twist on iPhone thefts can be more profitable – let alone, less dangerous – than selling drugs on the street… Read More


Smartphone theft fight gains UK support

By Ed Sutherland on Aug 13, 2013

The issue over smartphone thefts has taken on a British flavor. London’s mayor now says he supports calls by American law enforcement officials asking Apple and others to beef up ways to prevent stolen phones.

In a statement, London Mayor Boris Johnson said smartphone makers should “take this issue seriously.” Already, a half-dozen American officials have joined the ‘Secure Our Smartphones’ campaign, stretching from Hawaii to Delaware… Read More


Security experts contracted to attempt to bypass iOS 7’s Activation Lock feature

By Cody Lee on Jul 18, 2013

Earlier this year, San Francisco’s district attorney George Gascón met with Apple’s government rep Michael Foulkes to discuss the rising number of iPhone thefts. He felt like the company could be doing more, on a technological level, to thwart these would-be thieves.

Apple responded in a major way. In June, the company introduced a new feature in iOS 7 called Activation Lock, which can prevent thieves from activating a stolen handset without the proper credentials. But while Gascón says he appreciates the effort, he’s not convinced… Read More


Prosecutors combine to fight smartphone thefts

By Ed Sutherland on Jun 13, 2013

While its no case of Elliot Ness against Chicago’s rum runners of Prohibition days, prosecutors in two major U.S. cities are teaming up with local police to fight a wave of violent smartphone thefts. Law enforcers Thursday issued an SOS of sorts, or ‘Save Our Smartphones’.

The announcement comes as Apple and other smartphone makers meet with the New York State Attorney General and San Francisco’s District Attorney. It’s unknown whether Apple’s new Activation Lock feature unveiled during Monday’s WWDC keynote as part of iOS 7 will be enough to satisfy calls for handset makers to create a kill switch to disable stolen smartphones… Read More


Prosecutors cautiously optimistic Activation Lock in iOS 7 could curb urban iPhone theft

By Ed Sutherland on Jun 11, 2013

Apple’s Monday announcement that its new iOS 7 would include an ‘Activation Lock’ comes just days before the iPhone maker is to attend a Smartphone Summit. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón say they await details of the new iPhone feature.

After being stung by reports that it is not doing enough to prevent a rash of iPhone thefts, Apple argued Activation Lock would prevent thieves from using a stolen handset… Read More


Apple and others face questioning over stolen smartphone ‘epidemic’

By Ed Sutherland on Jun 5, 2013

First Apple and Samsung were sent an angry letter by New York’s Attorney General over efforts to curb growing thefts of smartphones.

Now the state’s top prosecutor wants a face-to-face meeting next week with representatives from Apple, Samsung, Google and Microsoft, saying they must find a way to solve what’s being described as an “epidemic”.

“It’s time for manufacturers to be as innovative in solving this problem as they have been in designing devices that have reshaped how we live,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Wednesday. But can handset makers really create such an effective kill-switch that would disable phones and cut thefts? Read More


Apple and Google asked to help NYC solve mobile device thefts

By Ed Sutherland on May 13, 2013

Is Apple doing enough to prevent an upsurge in thefts targeting the iPhone? That’s the question New York State’s Attorney General is asking the smartphone maker, citing several violent incidents involving thefts of mobile phones. In a letter to Apple, Android-maker Google, Galaxy manufacturer Samsung and others, Eric Schneiderman wants details on what the companies are doing to prevent thefts of handsets.

The state’s top law enforcement official noted thefts of Apple products in New York City between January 1 and September 23 rose forty percent while major crimes in the Big Apple increased by just four percent… Read More


Is Apple doing enough to help prevent iPhone thefts?

By Cody Lee on May 2, 2013

Last fall, the U.S. national database for stolen cell phones went live. The goal of the database, which was a joint venture between several carriers, was to make it harder for stolen handsets to be activated on US networks.

But according to a new report, the database is having little effect on the growing rate of cell phone thefts. And law enforcement officials are starting to look at handset makers to come up with a technological solution…

Read More


Report offers inside look at undercover police operation to disrupt stolen iPhone trade

By Cody Lee on Apr 29, 2013

Earlier this year, it was reported that mobile phone thefts had climbed to 300 per day in London, with the iPhone accounting for over half of them. And we’ve heard similar numbers here Stateside, in major cities like New York and Chicago.

But police forces are beginning to fight back, setting up undercover units to try and disrupt the stolen smartphone trade. And a new report out this weekend offers an inside look at such an operation by the San Francisco Police Department… Read More

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