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Jun 20, 2014 04:26 PM EDT

'Kill Switch' Cuts Theft, Google And Microsoft To Incorporate Feature


New crime data shows that iPhone theft fell dramatically after Apple introduced the "kill switch" last September, state officials announced Thursday.

The Activation Lock, aka kill switch, is a safety mechanism that can render a smartphone useless after being stolen.

Robberies of Apple products in New York City with the feature fell 19 percent while grand larcenies dropped 29 percent respectively in the first five months of 2014 compared to the same period last year, according to a new report issued by the Secure Our Smartphones ("S.O.S.") Initiative, an international partnership of law-enforcement agencies, elected officials and consumer advocates, which will mark its first year tomorrow.

 "In just one year, the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative has made tremendous strides towards curtailing the alarming trend of violent smartphone theft," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. "We will continue the fight to ensure that companies put consumers' safety first and work toward ending the epidemic of smartphone theft."

Although crimes involving iPhone theft dropped, violent crimes against people carrying smartphones without a kill switch, such as Samsung's popular Galaxy phones, went up 40 percent. Samsung introduced a kill switch solution on their Verizon Wireless devices in April

Google and Microsoft also hopped on the kill switch bandwagon; they will incorporate the safety mechanism into the next version of their respective operating systems on smartphones, the Associated Press reported.

Google's operating system, Android, runs on more than half of all smartphones used in the United States. Microsoft's operating system is on all Nokia smartphones. This means that a kill switch will be incorporated into the three dominant smartphone operating systems -- Android, iOS, and Windows Phone -- which currently encompass 97 percent of smartphones in the United States. 

"The commitments of Google and Microsoft are giant steps toward consumer safety and the statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of kill switches," Schneiderman said. 

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