IT | Security

NY Attorney General Attacks Cellphone Makers for Mobile Theft Rates

By: Absolute Editorial Team | 5/24/2013

In letters written to the Chief Executive Officers of Apple, Google/Motorola, Microsoft and Samsung, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman recently pushed for greater initiative from the cell phone industry in cracking down on mobile theft, with special emphasis on "Apple picking" of iPhones and iPads.

As outlined in the brief, the letter draws attention to the rise in mobile theft and the ease with which stolen devices can be wiped and resold for hundreds of dollars - despite creation of the mobile phone blacklist. Mobile theft is often violent and can even turn deadly.

In his letter, Attorney General Schneiderman accuses the 4 big cellphone makers of using "deceptive trade practices" related to the safety of the devices and those who use them. The letter to Apple, for example, contrasts Apple's claims of "safety and security by design" and ability to "prevent unauthorized use" with the reality:

"The impression to the consumer is that Apple devices include an array of features that, together, ensure safety and prevent unauthorized use. This drives sales and creates good will with customers. I am concerned, however, that Apple may have failed to live up to these representations, limiting its focus to information security, without providing safeguards that would truly deter theft and thereby protect the safety of your customers."

In addition, Attorney General Schneiderman implies that these companies are seeing a financial benefit from customers purchasing replacement devices given that the value of lost devices was over $30 billion in 2012. The letters request that these companies step up to find solutions that would lead to a reduction in violent street crime targeting consumers of their devices.

Although the letter is addressed to all 4 major cellphone makers, it should be noted that Samsung has taken steps to address mobile theft with its upcoming GALAXY S4 smartphone that includes Absolute Software persistence technology to lock down and recover stolen devices, even if the device is wiped clean. This new partnership offers protection to enterprise users as well as consumers.