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Bricked! Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia and Samsung to add anti-theft kill switch to new phones

James Temperton
16 Apr 2014
HTC One (m8)
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Smartphone thieves will soon be scuppered by a new high-tech feature that will make stolen devices useless

If you buy a smartphone in the USA from July 2015 onwards chances are it will have a new anti-theft tool to make it worthless to thieves.

The world's biggest smartphone manufacturers have signed up to a new initiative that will require them to better protect smartphones from criminals at no extra cost to you.

Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and several major mobile network operators have signed up to the scheme, which will require them to add a series of new features on all new smartphones sold in the USA.

If stolen, phones made by companies who are part of the initiative can be remotely wiped to remove personal data such as contacts, photos and emails.

The smartphone will also be made useless to anyone who doesn't know the password. Recovering the phone after it has been locked will be impossible without the permission of the legal owner. Once recovered from the thief the anti-theft feature will be able to restore the phone to its previous state by downloading user data from the cloud.

Known as the Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment, it will require any manufacturers signed up to it to make the above tools available. The anti-theft tools will most likely come pre-installed on all new phones.

It isn't yet clear how each manufacturer will implement the new requirements. Any changes made in the USA may or may not make it to other countries, but it seems likely that anti-theft tools would be a welcome feature elsewhere.

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