Don’t Kill the “Kill Switch”

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You may think that technological advances ensure a more secure future but think again, as technology evolves, ability to organize cyber attacks evolves in tandem.

This is most notably seen in the Visa & Mastercard Heist  in which people hacked both Visa and Mastercard, stealing 45 million dollars remotely in only hours.This cyber attacked happened around the world, all by the hands of computer criminals manipulating financial information. In turn, this information was used to loot the automated teller machines in major cities such as New York.

But as horrible as this may be, technology offers the ability to ensure security and privacy (If only phone providers could get behind the idea).

It may have not happened to you personally, but over the fiscal year of 2012, over 1.6 million smart phones were stolen. 

District attorney, George Gascón of San Francisco wants to fix this. In fact, phone manufacturers want to solve this problem as well. Unfortunately, cellular providers do not.

Gascón hopes to fix this rampant problem by implementing a kill switch into smart phones. This would be accomplished through a “kill switch” that would terminate smart phones if they were reported as stolen. Gascón is suspicious of the wireless carriers’ motives for rejecting the kill switch, claiming “there were email conversations between Samsung and the kill-switch developer, saying that the carriers were concerned about losing business”.

 Currently, many smart phones enable the option to wipe the memory of the phone if a perpetrator attempts to enter the phone. Unfortunately, without the backing of major cellular providers, these phones are still operable.This brings up the question—should cellular providers offer the option of a kill switch.

Yeah, why not? As technology becomes more penetrable, counter tactics must be implemented to secure the consumers regardless of economic motive. This leads to the follow up question—why don’t cellular companies implement the kill switch?

Although, there has not been an official reason, its pretty obvious why– its a terminate button. What business model would intentional provide consumers an option to terminate their service?  Providers say they will look into it but I wouldn’t get too excited. Either way, I wouldn’t expect a kill switch unless you work for the NSA.

In fact, the kill switch option may generate more revenue for some companies who take the initial step.

Bottom line, as privacy becomes persistently limited, cellular providers eventually should change their policies to appease the consumers.

[Huffingtonpost] [NY Times]

Featured image courtesy of [Stahlkocher via Wikipedia]

Zachary Schneider
Zach Schneider is a student at American University and formerly an intern at Law Street Media. Contact Zach at



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