recommended reading

Senators Want to Help You Kill Your iPhone

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP file photo

What would it take for you to kill your iPhone?

Congress may soon make it easier for you perform such a technological execution. A quartet of Democratic senators introduced legislation this week that would mandate smartphones come equipped with a "kill switch" that owners could activate in the event their cellular companion is lost or stolen.

The switch, if flipped, would wipe personal data from the phone and render it inoperable, a feature that the bill's backers say would not only protect consumer information but also deter would-be thieves.

"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," said Sen. Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat and one of the measure's original sponsors.

Added Barbara Mikulski of Maryland: "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." Connecticut's Richard Blumenthal and Hawaii's Mazie Hirono are also original cosponsors of the measure.

The idea of a kill switch is not entirely novel, and some phones already boast such macabre functionality. Klobuchar called on the wireless industry late last year to impose tighter safeguards on phones. And last week, lawmakers in California introduced similar legislation, which would require phones sold in or shipped to the state to have the antitheft technology beginning next year. If passed, California's law would become the first such state requirement in the country.

Some wireless companies have warned that legislation like the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act could backfire, however, and instead equip hackers with more tools to take down other people's phones.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, almost one-third of all robberies involved theft of a phone.

Get the Nextgov iPhone app to keep up with government technology news.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.