Wireless organization says industry commitment will help deter smartphone thefts and protect data

CTIA, an organization representing the wireless communications industry, reported on April 10 that it worked with government and law-enforcement sources to develop four steps to deter smartphone thefts and protect consumer data.

CTIA said the four voluntary industry commitments will address current theft and security issues, and will evolve as new wireless products and services become available.

The four steps, as outlined by CTIA, are as follows:

1) Implement databases to prevent reactivation of stolen smartphones. Wireless providers will work to initiate, implement and deploy database solutions, using unique smartphone identifying numbers, designed to prevent smartphones reported by their customers as stolen from being activated and/or provided service on their own networks. Using unique GSM smartphone identifying numbers, GSM providers will develop and deploy a database designed to prevent GSM smartphones reported as stolen from being activated or provided service. By Oct. 31, 2012, U.S. GSM providers will implement this database so that stolen GSM smartphones will not work on any U.S. GSM network. In addition, U.S. providers will create a common database for LTE smartphones designed to prevent smartphones that are reported stolen by consumers from being activated or provided service on any LTE network in the U.S. and on appropriate international LTE stolen mobile smartphone databases. This database will be completed by Nov. 30, 2013.

2) Notify consumers of features to secure/lock smartphones with passwords – and educate consumers about such features. By April 30, 2013, smartphone makers will implement a system to notify/inform users via the new smartphone upon activation or soon after of its capability of being locked and secured from unauthorized access by setting a password. By Dec. 31, 2012, smartphone makers will include information on how to secure/lock new smartphones in-box and/or through online "Quick Start" or user guides.

3) Educate consumers about applications to remotely lock/locate/erase data from smartphones. Wireless providers will inform consumers, using communications including e-mail or text messages, about the existence of – and access to – applications that can lock/locate/erase data from smartphones. Providers will also educate consumers on how to access these applications, including those that are easy-to-find and preloaded onto smartphones. Substantial progress on this will be made by Dec. 31, 2012; it will be completed by April 30, 2013. 

4) Educate consumers about smartphone theft , protections and preventative measures. By July 1, 2012, the wireless industry will launch an education campaign for consumers on the safe use of smartphones and highlight steps 1 through 3 by using a range of resources, including a public service announcement and online tools such as websites and social media.

Beginning June 30, 2012, CTIA will publish quarterly updates on its website and submit a copy to the Federal Communications Commission, detailing progress, benchmarking milestones and indicating completion by industry and provider of the following deliverables: implementation of databases; information about applications to locate/lock/erase data from smartphones; and efforts to educate consumers about smartphone theft, protections and preventative measures.