Wireless Providers Commit to Offering Anti-Theft Tools

In an about-face, a trade group that represents wireless providers has announced that the major mobile device makers and carriers will be adding anti-theft tools to their smartphones.

Lost or stolen smartphones cost consumers over $30 billion in 2012.

The trade group, CTIA-The Wireless Association, representing Apple, Samsung, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, US Cellular, Sprint and T-Mobile, says the companies will provide a free pre-loaded or downloadable anti-theft tool on phones sold in the United States after July 2015.

"We appreciate the commitment made by these companies to protect wireless users in the event their smartphones are lost or stolen," said CTIA CEO Steve Largent. "This flexibility provides consumers with access to the best features and apps that fit their unique needs while protecting their smartphones and the valuable information they contain. At the same time, it's important different technologies are available so that a 'trap door' isn't created that could be exploited by hackers and criminals."

While many welcome the commitment made by the trade group, others have expressed the weakness of the commitment since it relies on the consumer to turn on the technology.

"This approach is a losing strategy," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. "That's why this commitment falls short of what American wireless consumers need to effectively end the epidemic of smartphone theft."

Photo: Tech Entice