FCC Recommends Anti-Theft Technology For All Mobile Phones

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler has asked the wireless industry to voluntarily support the addition of features that would make it more difficult and/or less desirable for for thieves to steal mobile phones. A couple of the measures the FCC would like to see smartphone makers and wireless carriers adopt include remote lock and remote wiping.

"If implemented, these features will result in more consumers using these powerful features which, in turn, will mark a key milestone in combating smartphone theft," Wheeler said in a statement.

It's also being recommended that the ability to call 911 remains possible even when a phone is locked, and that these features be added without any cost to the consumer.


The recommendations come from the FCC's Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), which is acting through its Mobile Device Theft Prevention Working Group. What the Working Group is ultimately looking to achieve is a national framework of anti-theft features based individual state laws and the CIIA's own voluntary commitments that were announced in April of last year.

Should the features be added, they'd be turned on by default, requiring users to opt-out if they didn't want them enabled for whatever reason.

Smartphone theft is a growing problem. According to the FCC, there are over 1 million smartphones stolen each year, a figure it came up with extrapolating data obtained from 21 police departments covering nearly 20 million people.

There's also evidence to suggest that anti-theft features work as intended. After Apple turned on its Activation Lock kill switch by default with iOS 8, there was a big drop in iPhone thefts in major cities around the globe.