If you have ever lost a mobile phone, or worse, had one stolen, an announcement out of CTIA this week might bring a little bit of comfort. A global, multi-carrier database for tracking lost or stolen phones has now been completed, which builds on the initial efforts launched last year by AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon.
The reason this announcement is important is that lost or stolen phones can now be tracked and dealt with outside of the United States. Previously, had a phone (either yours or an entire shipment) been stolen, they could be shipped overseas and used without issue. Now, carriers in the US could work with carriers overseas to disable these phones remotely, making them useless.
While a database like this could prove useful, CTIA isn't quick to remove all blame from consumers should a phone be stolen or lost. "Another important element to stopping stolen phones is consumers. To assist users, we offer a list of apps to download that will remotely erase, track and/or lock the stolen devices." notes the press release.
As we talked about a couple of weeks ago, the same carriers that initiated this database in the US are hesitant to pre-ship a "killswitch", as they'd much rather just sell you insurance. That's the downside: The upside is that a number of solutions exist for consumers to add in later. In fact, both Apple and Google offer solutions like this from the get-go, but the caveat is that consumers need to already know about them, and enable the functions before the device is lost or stolen. We took a look at Android's solution a couple of months ago.
Whether this global database is going to do much to deter theft, we'll have to wait and see. We'd have to imagine that it'd take quite a while for word to get out to those who make a job out of stealing phones, and beyond that, there may be loopholes that eventually arise that totally negate the system's efforts. Time will tell.