“This phone will self-destruct in 3, 2, 1…”
That sentiment might seem like something to come out of Hollywood, but it might not too far removed from reality. Boeing has actually developed a super-secure smartphone, known as The Boeing Black, which has the ability to wipe all data if it is tampered with. It is currently only in use by government employees, but businesses are interested so that they can better protect vital information. While it probably won’t explode like in the movies, it has piqued the interest of companies worried about theft and data loss.
Though the widespread use of this kind of phone might seem impractical, legislation has been proposed that would make them more common. The Smart Phone Theft Prevention Act, proposed by Rep. José E. Serrano, D – N.Y., would require a kill switch on smart phones. It would allow users to wipe their phone remotely after it got stolen, hopefully minimizing motivation for stealing them.
“Cell phone theft is growing quickly across the country, and unfortunately, smartphone manufacturers and carriers have not done enough o ensure the safety and security of their customers,” Serrano said. “This legislation enables consumers to protect themselves by rendering their devices useless in the hands of criminals and reducing the incentive to commit these crimes in the first place.”
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who heads the “Secure Our Smartphones” initiative praised Serrano his actions.
“Since last May, the [initiative] has challenged carriers and manufacturers to install technology that would end the epidemic of violent smartphone thefts,” he said. “I applaud Congressman Serrano for bringing this to the floor of the House and putting the smartphone industry on notice. Because the industry dragged its feet, Congress is poised to act on legislation that will put consumers ahead of profits.”
Of course, the United States is not the only place where smartphone security is an issue. According to a study by comScore Inc, roughly 12 million Canadians, or some 35% of the population, use a smartphone, and numbers around the world are increasing as technology use and growth continues in developing nations.
Recent surveys by Pew Research found that, “More than half of Americans (55%) have a smartphone, 34% have a feature phone, and 9% have no phone. Elsewhere in the world, a smartphone is less common. However, significant minorities in countries such as Lebanon (45%) and China (37%) own a smartphone and the future looks bright for the technology. In every country polled, there is a significant age gap on smartphone ownership, with people under 30 more likely to own the devices.”
Today, 91% of Americans have a cell phone and more than half have a smartphone. The information gathered by Pew suggest that, in the near future, other countries may reach similar numbers. As a result, products like the Boeing phone and legislation similar to Serrano’s could have a major global impact on global smartphone security.