Attorney General Calls For Apple, Samsung To Invent Ways To Curb Phone Theft ‘Epidemic’


The New York Attorney General has called for Apple, Google, Samsung, and Microsoft to invent new ways to curb the ongoing smartphone theft “epidemic.” Eric Schneiderman wants meetings with representatives from all four companies, and he has urged them to “be as innovative in solving this problem as they have been in designing devices that have reshaped how we live.”

Smartphone theft is a growing problem — particularly as the devices become increasingly popular — and in places like New York City it’s getting out of hand. Mayor Bloomberg recently said that Apple’s iPhone is responsible for the city’s first increase in crime in over 20 years.

Schneiderman has already probed the four companies mentioned in an effort to establish why they cannot develop new technologies to prevent smartphone theft, and now he’s stepping it up a notch.

“The theft of handheld devices is the fastest-growing street crime, and increasingly, incidents are turning violent,” Schneiderman said in a statement Wednesday. “It’s time for manufacturers to be as innovative in solving this problem as they have been in designing devices that have reshaped how we live.”

Schneiderman wants to meet with representatives from these companies next week, and according to a report from the Huffington Post, he plans to grill them on why they are failing to address the soaring thefts of mobile devices.

“Schneiderman, along with San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, will question Apple, Google, Samsung and Microsoft officials in New York about why they have not yet developed technology that renders stolen mobile devices inoperable, eliminating the incentive for theft,” Gerry Smith writes.

It’s a question smartphone users have been asking for a long time. If we have the ability to track our devices when they’re stolen, and wipe our data from them remotely, why can we not render them useless as well? If we or the authorities had this power, our smartphones could become worthless as soon as they enter criminal hands.

It wouldn’t take long for criminals to learn this, and they would soon stop targeting our mobile devices.

1.6 million smartphones were stolen in the United States last year, and around 40% of robberies in major cities involve a mobile device, according to the FCC. New York City has even set up a special team of officers dedicated to tackling smartphone theft.

“This has become a national epidemic,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. “Unlike other types of crimes, smartphone theft can be eradicated with a simple technological solution.”