Thefts of Apple iPhones have become so widespread that the police have coined the term “Apple picking” to describe the crime. Apple says it has come up with a solution for the problem, and legal officials are already showing thanks to the company.
Apple on Monday said its next mobile operating system, iOS 7, due out in the fall, will include a feature called Activation Lock that should help deter theft. The feature disables the iPhone even if a thief has turned it off or erased the data on the phone. It can be reactivated only after the user logs into it with the right Apple ID and password.
George Gascón, the district attorney of San Francisco, and Eric Schneiderman, the attorney general of New York, have been pushing smartphone makers to do more to protect customers. They have arranged a meeting in New York on Thursday with representatives from Apple, Motorola Mobility, Samsung and Microsoft to discuss ways to deal with the issue.
After hearing about Apple’s Activation Lock, Mr. Gascón and Mr. Schneiderman issued this joint statement:
‘Apple Picking’ is a huge epidemic in the United States. We are appreciative of the gesture made by Apple to address smartphone theft. We reserve judgment on the activation lock feature until we can understand its actual functionality. We look forward to having a substantive conversation with Apple and other manufacturers at our Smartphone Summit on Thursday. We are hopeful that the cellphone industry will imbed persistent technology that is free to consumers that will make a phone inoperable once stolen, even if the device is off, the SIM card is removed, or the phone is modified by a thief to avoid detection.
The wireless carriers last year started a nationwide database that was supposed to blacklist phones reported stolen, preventing them from being reactivated on an American network. But the police say the carrier database has been ineffective. Phone theft has only gone up. In fact, in several metropolitan cities it has reached a record high.