Apple, Google, Samsung, AT&T And Verizon Back Smartphone Theft Deterrent Kill Switch Initiative

Apple's iOS 7 already saw the introduction of Activation Lock, which was built to prevent stolen phones from being wiped, unlocked, sold elsewhere, and activated by a buyer who wasn't aware of the phone's illicit journey. But phone manufacturers are looking to take things a step further, and for good reason.

Phone theft has become quite the problem in major cities, where these $800 devices are easily taken and then hawked online, often to buyers in foreign locales. To combat the surge of phone theft, Apple, AT&T, Google, Verizon Wireless, and Samsung have all said that they'll offer free antitheft software starting in 2015.

CTIA, an industry trade group that represents mobile carriers, noted that over 12 companies in total have signed on. The software would effectively act as a "kill switch," enabling genuine buyers to report stolen phones and "reactivate it only with the correct password or personal identification number." Interestingly, it seems as if the software wouldn't be enabled by default, so consumers would still have to take it upon themselves to do so upon purchase. Of course, that's a small ask for that amount of protection.