U.S. Cellphone Makers to Equip Phones with Anti-Theft Mechanism

Cell phone thefts are on the rise in the U.S., but not for long, as owners may soon be able to remotely lock a stolen phone and erase all its data.

The five biggest cellular phone service providers in the country, together with major manufacturers, including Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Motorola and Nokia, have signed an agreement that will effectively eliminate the benefits to the thieves.

According to a statement by the industry's largest trade organization, all smartphones manufactured for sale in the U.S. after July 2015 will be equipped with a system for remotely erasing all data and making them useless without the proper password.

Thieves also will not be able to reset the phone. All the deleted data would be retrievable if the owner gets the phone back.

The so-called Kill switch' will be installed on all smartphones, free of charge.

Previously, some cellphone service providers resisted introduction of a "kill switch," fearing that hackers could exploit the feature, but later reversed their stand under pressure from the public and some lawmakers.

Apple and a few other manufacturers already offer features that let owners prevent reactivation of their stolen phones.

VOA News / Apr. 18, 2014 08:20 KST