Mayoral Hopeful Wrote Letter To Smartphone Makers Urging 'Kill Switch'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral hopeful Bill de Blasio has teamed up with New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to take aim at the soaring numbers of smartphone-related crime.

There were 16,000 thefts of smartphones or tablets in New York City last year alone, said de Blasio.

“This is about safety,” said de Blasio. “According to the FCC, cell phone thefts now account for 30 to 40 percent of all robberies nationwide.”

De Blasio has written a letter to the top manufacturers – Apple, Google/Motorola, Samsung and Microsoft.

“The CEOs named here literally are the people who have the power to solve this problem,” said de Blasio.

Schneiderman said the smartphone manufacturers must take swifter action against what he’s called an “epidemic” of thefts.

“This is something that can be stopped and we are going to continue our pressure on the industry,” Schneiderman said. “To install kill switches on every smartphone so they can be canceled like your credit card.”

If the companies don’t cooperate, Schneiderman said he’d push for tougher new laws.

Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón have led the charge in calling for phones and tablets to be equipped with kill switches as part of the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) Initiative.

Officials said the thefts, which have been dubbed “Apple Picking” because of the popularity of Apple products, would drop dramatically if the device was rendered useless through a kill switch.

In June, Schneiderman and Gascón met with representatives from the four largest mobile device manufacturers at a Smartphone Summit at Schneiderman’s office.

De Blasio’s letter to smartphone manufacturers can be read here.

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