Follow us:

Mónica Guzmán

Stories at the intersection of tech and life from a boldly connected city.

June 10, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Apple’s Activation Lock feature a potential victory for law enforcement

wwdclogo

Nothing is truly foolproof when it comes to securing your phone.

But device manufacturers are working on it.

Apple today announced a new feature in its iOS mobile software at its Worldwide Developers Conference that appears to represent a big step toward law enforcement’s dream — a remote “kill switch” on smartphones. The feature, called Activation Lock, requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a phone that’s been wiped, deactivated or had its homing beacon feature, Find My Phone, turned off. That would protect users’ data and render the device potentially worthless on the lucrative smartphone resale market.

It’s a victory for the two officials who’ve been pressuring device manufacturers to better secure smartphones, district attorney George Gascón of San Francisco and New York state attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

“I would like to know what Apple is doing to combat this growing public safety problem,” Schneiderman wrote in a public letter to Apple in May. As I mentioned in my Sunday column, smartphone thefts account for a growing chunk of robberies and street crime in cities across the country. Apple smartphones are particularly tempting targets for phone thieves. Schneiderman’s press office refers to the crime trend as “Apple pickings.”

The Activation Lock announcement is sure to come up June 13 when Gascón and Schneiderman meet with representatives from Apple, Google’s Motorola Mobility, Samsung and Microsoft to talk about phone security.

Even if Apple’s new feature is not the theft deterrent officials have been waiting for (something tells me savvy device hackers already know 10 ways around this thing), it should give iPhone users some peace of mind. If their device is gone, the keys to their digital life might not go with it.

Seen a story that caught your eye re: digital life? Email me at mguzman@seattletimes.com or reach me on Twitter or Facebook.

Comments | More in Crime, Mobile, Security

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►