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Google, Microsoft Adding 'Kill Switch' to New Smartphones

Muriel de Seze

Microsoft and Google have agreed to add a "kill switch" to the next versions of their operating systems for smartphones, following efforts by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon to publicize the increasingly prevalent crime of smartphone theft.

A "kill switch" enables a phone's owner to completely disable the device remotely in case it is stolen or lost. Apple's iOS 7 includes the feature, calling it "Activation Lock," though hackers have shown it can be circumvented.

Thefts of iPhones reportedly dropped significantly after the iOS kill switch was announced, though, so a similar effect may reasonably be expected for other platforms. Google is expected to show the next version of Android at its I/O event next week.

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