Last month, CTIA and the wireless industry once again extended their long line of consumer protection initiatives by announcing steps they are taking in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission and law enforcement to help deter smartphone theft and protect personal data.
A key part of the effort – creating databases to prevent reactivation of stolen smartphones – has received broad support from other countries, including those in Europe and now Latin America. Later this month, the Organization of American States will consider a resolution, “Regional Measures to Combat the Theft of Mobile Terminal Devices,” to extend the proposal by CTIA and the U.S. wireless industry throughout OAS member states. We applaud the OAS for its steps to join the U.S. effort.
As the U.S. and our global wireless counterparts take effective steps to address this issue, we aim to “dry up” demand for would‑be thieves who will quickly realize that stolen smartphones will not be activated on carriers’ networks. As the OAS considers this issue, CTIA wishes to highlight the effort and recognize how expanded international participation will improve the efficiency of the overall stolen smartphones effort.
The initiative can be found here. The four key elements of CTIA and participating wireless companies’ voluntarily commitments to deter smartphone phone theft and protect personal data are summarized below:
- Implement databases to prevent reactivation of stolen smartphones. CDMA wireless providers will work to initiate, implement and deploy database solutions, using unique smartphone identifying numbers, designed to prevent smartphones reported by their customers as stolen from being activated and/or provided service on their own networks. Using unique GSM smartphone identifying numbers, GSM providers will develop and deploy a database designed to prevent GSM smartphones reported as stolen from being activated or provided service. By October 31, 2012, U.S. GSM providers will implement this database so that stolen GSM smartphones will not work on any U.S. GSM network.
In addition, U.S. providers will create a common database for LTE smartphones designed to prevent smartphones that are reported stolen by consumers from being activated or provided service on any LTE network in the U.S. and on appropriate international LTE stolen mobile smartphone databases. This database will be completed by November 30, 2013.
- (A). Notify consumers of features to secure/lock smartphones with passwords. By April 30, 2013, smartphone manufacturers will implement a system to notify/inform users via the new smartphones upon activation or soon after of its capability of being locked and secured from unauthorized access by setting a password.
(B). Educate consumers about features to secure/lock smartphones with passwords. By December 31, 2012, smartphone manufacturers will include information on how to secure/lock new smartphones in-box and/or through online “Quick Start” or user guides.
- Educate consumers about applications to remotely lock/locate/erase data from smartphones. Wireless providers will inform consumers, using communications including email or text messages, about the existence of – and access to – applications that can lock/locate/erase data from smartphones. Providers also will educate consumers on how to access these applications, including those that are easy-to-find and preloaded onto smartphones. Substantial progress on this will be made by December 31, 2012; it will be completed by April 30, 2013.
- Educate consumers about smartphone theft, protections and preventative measures. By July 1, 2012, the wireless industry will launch an education campaign for consumers on the safe use of smartphones and highlight the solutions one through three by using a range of resources, including a public service announcement and online tools such as websites and social media.
We fully expect this voluntary effort by large and small stakeholders in the wireless ecosystem to put a significant dent in law enforcement’s problem of theft of smartphones. This effort continues to be “proof positive” that whether it’s deterring theft of smartphones and securing personal data, providing consumers with geographically targeted wireless emergency alerts, improving wireless 911 service, or offering usage notifications, wireless consumers in the U.S. can know that the wireless industry “has their backs.”