A report by Heider College of Business at Creighton University professor Dr. William Duckworth indicates that consumers in the U.S. market could save as much as $2.6 billion dollars a year in if mobile service providers were required to provide anti-theft “kill switch” software that could remotely disable a lost or stolen device.
Duckworth noted in the report that a study by Consumer Reports estimated that as many as 1.6 million mobile devices were stolen in the U.S. in 2012, and that mandatory kill switch technology that would render the devices useless would dis-incentivize criminals from targeting the devices, which can sell for hundreds of dollars on the black market.
“Many have argued that a “Kill Switch” – technology that would disable stolen phones – could be an effective theft deterrent if it was installed on every phone. If all stolen phones could easily be disabled, criminals would have virtually no incentive to steal a phone in the first place,” Duckworth wrote.
Aside from the costs associated with replacing the spendy devices, consumers could also realize a reduction in the cost of insuring them, as the risk of theft would be significantly diminished, or simply would not buy as much coverage for their devices.
“My research suggests that at least half of smartphone owners would in fact reduce their insurance coverage if the Kill Switch reduced the prevalence of cell phone theft,” Duckworth continued.
Other key findings in the report include:
- 99% of smartphone owners feel wireless carriers should give all consumers the option to disable a cell phone if it is stolen
- 83% of smartphone owners believe that a Kill Switch would reduce cell phone theft
- 93% of smartphone owners believe that Americans should not be expected to pay
- extra fees for the ability to disable a stolen phone
The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, “a bill to require mobile service providers and mobile device manufacturers to give consumers the ability to remotely delete data from mobile devices and render such devices inoperable,” is being considered by a Senate committee, but the likelihood of passage in the face of the mobile industry’s resistance to the legislation is estimated to be at about 3%, even thought consumers are in favor of it.
“Overall, it seems clear that Americans want the Kill Switch and that an industry-wide implementation of the technology could significantly improve public safety and save consumers billions of dollars a year,” Duckworth said.
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