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UK government fights next-gen mobile phone crime

Three new design innovations to tackle mobile phone crime, including a device that locks a phone and alerts the owner if it is taken away from them, have been unveiled today. The prototypes were as part of the Mobile Phone Security Challenge, an initiative from the Home Office. The aim of was to make phones more secure and to prevent unauthorised use of mobiles. This could potentially become a big problem, as phones become facilitators for day-to-day electronic payments.

The solutions are:

* i-migo - a small device which the user keeps about their person. The i-migo sounds an alert and locks the handset if it is taken out of a set range - either through theft or loss. The i-migo also provides automated backup of important data using Bluetooth technology.

* The 'tie' solution - this electronically matches a handset to a SIM card and protects data stored on the handset with a password and encryption. If stolen, the handset cannot be used with another SIM and data such as saved passwords, browsed websites, and contacts cannot be accessed by criminals.

* TouchSafe - aimed at making "M-Commerce" transactions more secure by using a small card worn or carried by the user, who discreetly touches the phone to the card to enable the transaction. Touch Safe uses the same technology currently used by the Oyster travel card.

The three working prototypes will be on display from the 15 - 18 February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the mobile industry's annual trade show. The Design and Technology Alliance and the Design Council will be calling for the industry to protect their customers by adopting these innovative security technologies.

Home Office Minister Alan Campbell said "Overall crime has fallen since 1997 but as new technology creates new opportunities for the user it can also provide criminals with opportunities as well. This is where designing out crime can make a real difference and we are leading the way by using technology to protect the public."

"I believe the solutions developed by this challenge have the potential to be as successful as previous innovations like Chip and Pin, which reduced fraud on lost or stolen cards to an all time low, and would encourage industry to continue working with us and take them up."

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