Lost Your Phone? The Government Wants to Find it For You
by Alex Fitzpatrick on Mashable
If you’re one of the many cellphone owners who’ve ever left their mobile device behind at a crowded restaurant, packed bar or city-crossing taxi, you know the heart-sinking shock felt when you reach for your phone only to find it missing — all because some quick-fingered swindler grabbed it while you were distracted.
You’re also not alone. In Washington, D.C., New York and other major cities, 40% of robberies involve cellphones. In the capital region, the number of cellphone robberies is up 57%.
How can we reduce the number of mobile devices thefts out there? The Federal Communications Commission thinks it has the answer. The FCC announced its PROJECTS Initiative on Tuesday, a three-point plan to fight cell phone theft.
First, the FCC will be setting up a massive universal database which will allow carriers to automatically disable any mobile devices — including both cellphones and wireless-enabled tablets — reported stolen. The Commission says that such a database will dramatically reduce stolen devices’ value to would-be buyers.
The FCC has called upon all countries of the world to join the database program, which would help prevent stolen phones from being smuggled overseas and used elsewhere in the world.
Second, the Commission wants cell phone manufacturers to program devices to automatically prompt users to create passwords and take other steps to protect their data. That, argues the Commission, would make users somewhat more security-conscious.
Finally, a widespread public education plan will teach owners of mobile devices about the availability of mobile apps that allow users to remotely lock and delete the contents of stolen phones and tablets. The FCC has already begun the campaign with a list of helpful tips posted online.
Mobile phone designers Apple, Motorola, Qualcomm, HTC, Microsoft, Nokia and RIM are all on-board for the FCC’s plan. On the provider side, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and Nex-Tech Wireless have agreed to help with the anti-theft initiative. All of these companies are expected to report to the FCC four times each year on their PROJECTS progress.
The FCC will also be holding regular meetings every quarter with police chiefs from across the country to determine the best ways to reduce mobile device theft.
Have you had your phone stolen? Tell us your story in the comments below.
Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mbbirdy
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