RI Agreed Industry’s Voluntary Commitment is the Right Step to Help Stop Smartphone Theft

Yesterday, Rhode Island state policymakers recognized that the wireless industry’s “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” was the right initiative, not legislation, needed to help stop smartphone thefts. Individually and industry-wide via CTIA, we remain committed to helping law enforcement with this important issue.

As we said many times before, legislating a so-called solution, such as a “kill switch,” would create unintended consequences and cause more problems. For example:

  • Hackers could figure out how to disable smartphones used by consumers, first responders and law enforcement.
  • If a consumer reports a lost device, but then finds it and needs to dial 911, the device would not be able to connect to public safety.
  • It would also ignore the significant innovation and competition in the U.S. wireless industry since regulation can never keep pace with the evolving wireless companies.
  • A device cannot “kill” itself, nor can a network disable a phone, even when that phone is turned off or when it lacks network connectivity.

What lawmakers mandate as a solution today may not be the right solution tomorrow. At the same time, there is one piece of legislation that must be passed, which is U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s Mobile Device Theft Deterrence Act, which would impose tough penalties on those who steal devices or modify them illegally to help dry up the market for those who traffic in stolen devices.

We remind consumers to always protect their personal information – and themselves – if their devices are lost or stolen. We provide a list of apps and features available today, as well as a checklist for what to do before and after devices are lost or stolen.

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