AT&T, Verizon, Others Join CTIA to Stop Smartphone Theft

CTIA-The Wireless Association, together with participating wireless companies AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile, today announced it worked with the federal government and law enforcement to develop four steps to help deter smartphone thefts and protect consumer data.

These four voluntary industry commitments are expected to effectively address this issue while continuing to evolve as new wireless products and services become available.

The first step is to 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.

The first part of the second step will be to notify consumers of features to secure and lock smartphones with passwords. By April 30, 2013, smartphone makers will implement a system to notify users via the new smartphones upon activation or soon after of its capability of being locked and secured from unauthorized access by setting a password. 

The second part of the second step will be to educate consumers about features to secure and lock smartphones with passwords. By Dec. 31, 2012, smartphone makers will include information on how to secure and lock new smartphones in-box and/or through online "Quick Start" or user guides.

The third step will be to educate consumers about applications to remotely lock, locate, and erase data from smartphones. Wireless providers will inform consumers, using communications including email or text messages, about the existence of, and access to, applications that can lock, locate, and 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, and it will be completed by April 30, 2013, the groups said.

The final step will be to 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 the solutions one through three by using a range of resources, including a public service announcement and online tools such as websites and social media.

"CTIA and its members have always been strong advocates for the safety and protection of America’s wireless users…," said Steve Largent, president and CEO, CTIA-The Wireless Association. "By working closely with law enforcement, these four steps will help deter smartphone theft and keep America’s wireless users safe."

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