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Smartphone Makers Nationwide Getting Smart About Security

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Jessica Kartalija 3 Jessica Kartalija
Jessica Kartalija joined the Eyewitness News team during the summer of...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A third of robberies in America involve the theft of a mobile device. Top law enforcement officials across the country are asking for help from the companies that make those devices.

Jessica Kartalija explains–they want smartphone makers to be smart about security.

More than half of all Americans now carry smartphones, and that makes them potential targets for thieves.

“It could be gunpoint, it could be a knife, it could be a punch,” said George Gascon, San Francisco District Attorney.

According to Consumer Reports, 1.6 million Americans had their smartphones stolen last year.

“A lot of people are getting hurt. We had one tourist who actually got stabbed,” said Gascon.

George Gascon, the district attorney in San Francisco, and New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, are meeting with smartphone makers Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft. They will be looking for details on how companies plan to fight the crime wave.

In a presentation this week, Apple said the so-called “kill-switch” technology will be part of iPhone software available in the fall.

“Now with activation lock, if a thief tries to turn off ‘Find My iPhone’ or if they even wipe the device entirely, they will not be able to reactivate it,” said Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software, Apple.

An iPhone stolen on the streets of Baltimore could end up half way around the world. The question is: Can a kill-switch kill work?

“I think that’s going to be a very good idea to do that,” a woman said.

“It definitely worries me. It would be smart to put a kill-switch in because even teenagers nowadays are worried about what their friends say about other friends,” a man said.

“Presumably, this would let you send a signal to that phone wherever it was so that it would deactivate the phone,” said Molly Wood, CNET Editor. “And only the owner could get in with some sort of a pass code or maybe a biometric. We’re not exactly sure what mechanism.”

Baltimore City officials are also trying to do away with kiosks that allow customers to instantly resell iPhones for cash.

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