The new line of Apple mobile phones, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, will feature a “kill switch” that allows customers to lock their phone and remotely remove all their data in the event that it's stolen. Regulators have long called for such a move, complaining that cell phone companies have done too little to discourage theft.
Both new phones will come equipped with the kill switch and other Apple products were given the ability to download the software on Wednesday, Reuters reported. The announcement is the first time that the kill switch is included on iPhones by default, a change that comes after a long campaign by New York State Attorney General Erich Schneiderman and New York District Attorney George Gascon.
“This is a game changer,” Gascon told Reuter. “This is a major development that will change behavior on the street and eventually run around this violent epidemic.”
Apple owners without the new iPhone models can enable the kill switch by turning on the “Find My iPhone” feature. Users can go into “Settings,” tap iCloud, sign in with their Apple ID and switch on “Find My iPhone.” The kill switch can be put into effect by turning on “Lost mode” in the iCloud once the device is either taken or missing.
Surging smartphone theft has increased the pressure on manufacturers to get involved. Nearly 2,400 cell phones were stolen in San Francisco in 2013, a 23 percent rise from the year before, while 8,465 Apple products were reported stolen in New York City, an 8 percent rise. Law enforcement in Philadelphia, Denver, Washington DC and elsewhere have reported similar figures despite dedicating more resources to sting operations.
This announcement came on the same day that Apple announced it would make it impossible for the company to provide data from iPhone and iPads locked with a passcode to the police.