Giving consumers another reason to embrace smartphones, the industry is working with the government to make the technology safer and more secure. The cellular industry just announced a new nationwide database aimed at preventing the use of stolen smartphones, to be strengthened by a bill proposed by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., making it illegal to circumvent the database.
The joint initiative comes amid a steep rise in the theft of smartphones and cellphones, which made up 30% to 40% of all robberies in major U.S. cities last year, reports USA Today, citing police estimates. "It is a big crime trend, and that is what the police chiefs brought to our attention," said Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski.
“Cellphone service providers pledge to cooperate on a database, fully operational within 18 months, that will prevent stolen smartphones from being used on other networks in the U.S. or globally,” USA Today reports. According to Genachowski, the move will have a significant impact on criminal activity. "The police chiefs are convinced that that will significantly reduce the value of the phone and reduce the black market economics to steal a phone," he said. Meanwhile, carriers are also expected to encourage customers to use passwords that lock their phones and the data they hold.