FCC chairman wants to make phone theft more difficult

Head of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler, called for all smartphone manufacturers to implement additional features which would make smartphone, and other mobile device theft more difficult.

In a statement made yesterday, the FCC chairperson called on the smartphone industry to listen to the advice of the regulatory body's working group, and adopt theft-prevention features such as remote-locking and remote-data-wiping, which would be activated on all mobile phones by default and require consumers to take affirmative steps to disable them.

FCC Chairman Wheeler said, “If implemented, these features will result in more consumers using these powerful features which, in turn, will mark a key milestone in combatting smart phone theft.”

These recommendations come from the Federal Communication Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), acting through its Mobile Device Theft Prevention Working Group.

Wheeler's public comments, the FCC says, are intended to push the wireless industry into acting on the recommendations sooner rather than later.

The Group is comprised of representatives from key industries involved with mobile technologies, members of law enforcement and consumer interest organisations.

Wheeler also called for the option to call 911 from the lock screen, “all at no cost to the consumer”.

The working group’s recommendations seek to uniformly align and to more clearly specify theft-prevention features defined in disparate state laws and the CTIA’s own voluntary commitments announced in April 2014, it says in the press release.

Back in 2014, California imposed a law in which all smartphones sold there must have a kill-switch.

The law calls for smartphone manufacturers to feature a built-in tool that allows the owner to remotely lock, disable and wipe the device.