Manufacturers and carriers get together to bring anti-theft tools to smartphones

smartphone theft
By Jerry Hildenbrand on 15 Apr 2014 06:05 pm EDT

Apple, Google, and Microsoft are but a few of the names that have announced a commitment to including features to deter smartphone theft in all future products. Even the carriers are on board, with the big four announcing support and commitment as well.

What they're all committing to is the "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment." All phones sold by the signees after July 2015 will offer, at no additional cost, the following tools and services:

  • Remote wipe the authorized user’s data (i.e., erase personal info that is added after purchase such as contacts, photos, emails, etc.) that is on the smartphone in the event it is lost or stolen.
  • Render the smartphone inoperable to an unauthorized user (e.g., locking the smartphone so it cannot be used without a password or PIN), except in accordance with FCC rules for 911 emergency communications, and if available, emergency numbers programmed by the authorized user (e.g., “phone home”).
  • Prevent reactivation without authorized user’s permission (including unauthorized factory reset attempts) to the extent technologically feasible (e.g., locking the smartphone as in 2 above).
  • Reverse the inoperability if the smartphone is recovered by the authorized user and restore user data on the smartphone to the extent feasible (e.g., restored from the cloud).

This is a pretty big deal. While not everyone will use these tools or keep them active, having them available may make a dent in the number of smartphones stolen each year. And while both Apple and Google already provide such a service, having it pre-installed and shown to the user from day one should increase the number of folks actively using tools like this.

We're eagerly awaiting our chance to see how it all works. For more, follow the source link below.

Source: CTIA

Reader comments

Manufacturers and carriers get together to bring anti-theft tools to smartphones


BlackBerry Protect let's you lock or wipe your phone and you can turn on a customizable auto reply text.

Posted with my BlackBerry Q10.

This has been possible for a long while. Certainly since OS 7.0, possibly before, I don't quite remember.

Posted via CB10

You can also command the phone to take pictures with the front and rear cameras and send them to an email or a BES Admin. I believe it can also Record audio and send that as well.

Funny to see others having to do this to comply with a new law, while BlackBerry has done it for a decade or more.

Posted via CB10

Hmm could you do the picture function on current BB10 phones? Are these all in the Blackberry Protect app? Ever since they stripped it down from the OS 7.0's ability to store contacts etc, I haven't paid any attention to it

Posted via CB10

The remote wipe and remote lock are definitely there on BB10; I'm not sure about the pictures though. You can also get the phone to play really loud noises, in the event it is lost or stolen.

Posted via CB10

I guess it's funny because there must be tons and tons of people with wobbly tables.

Posted via CB10

There was ZERO mention of BlackBerry in the article even though BlackBerry has had Protect for years now.

Jerry (the author) is not a BlackBerry fan. He could have put in there that these features are the same (or similar) to the ones already put in BlackBerry OS's but why put that.... That would look like Apple, Win, and Android are catching up on features that BlackBerry has had for years.....

Not sure of this "cross contamination" of Mobile Nation sites... I would prefer is the author actually knew about BlackBerry's for his post to be up on the CrackBerry page. Guess we'll see where this goes....

Agreed! At least if Mobile Nations is going to do this, the better make it balanced and at least mentioned that these features had long been implemented in BlackBerry BES, and even legacy BBOS users in consumer space had been able to do the same via Protect.

Posted via CB10

I just thought I would add some knowledge over at Android Central. I added to their comments section there (same post) that BlackBerry has had this for years. We'll see where this goes.... Might be fun....

Jerry is absolutely not a BlackBerry fan. He's the guy who singled out BB10 users for piracy from (shady) sources THAT WERE BUILT FOR ANDROID USERS IN THE FIRST PLACE. Talk about a hypocrite fanboy.

Jerry (the author) is a schmuck.

Regarding this "new" feature, I'm a little dubious of its worth.

Don't get me wrong, BlackBerry Protect (though never used) has been a comfortable safety net for me for years. But I want something under the FCC rules to include a one way transmission via an internal (and highly limited) SIM that will allow me to locate my phone even when my carrier SIM is removed or carrier network is disabled.

I will certainly play the ignorance card by saying I have no idea if this is even possible, but I assume it must be. Have an internal device specific SIM that will ping the central server once every half hour while the phone is locked but the carrier SIM is inserted and once every five minutes when the phone is on but the carrier SIM has been removed or the network connection has been severed. Once BlackBerry Protect has located the device it maintains the connection until located and unlocked or wiped/disabled.

The current state renders BlackBerry Protect useless when the person who has located my phone opens it up and removes my SIM. Now they enter my password incorrectly 10 times and the phone is wiped (my info vanishing is top priority) which is all well and good, but the thief still gets the phone. I want my phone back...

Granted this feature will eliminate unauthorized factory resets which is good. I will give them that.

Just my thoughts. Again, I'm ignorant to the logistics of the whole matter but I hate knowing someone can steal my phone and simply remove the SIM to thwart my attempts at locating my device.

~ TheRealFixxxer 

You had me at "Jerry is a schmuck"

Can we have a voting as to the quality of the articles in CB or the quality / validity of the authors?

This is a poll that I would love to see!

Posted via CB10

Aaaaa let's not be selfish and snobs on this forum. We know Blackberry users are highly intelligent and naturally would use all security features.

Anyway, we are already swamped with Android app blogs. Can never please everyone, eh?

 Posted by the Crackberry Pirate 

"Selfish and snobs"

Really? That's what you think?
You're a talented name caller.
"Stick & stones.... blah blah blah"

I think you should go back and actually read the post and read CrackBerry posts over the past 5 years. Then, you'd see my point.
There are many great tech and mobile stories. Then, there are stories for the BlackBerry crowd.
You have to admit that this is not your go to place for Tech News, but rather for BlackBerry related news.

Posted via CB10

Not sure how awesome it is as I never got to actually test it. However the big question here is theft deterrence. Is Protect a deterrent? The idea here, pushed by California, is to render all stolen phones worthless and drive down theft. I currently live as expat in Brazil and my girlfriend had a gun pointed at her face to steal her phone. She got out safe but that would not have happened if everyone in the world knew stolen phone are worthless.

This feature is MASSIVELY needed and it's ridiculous it is barely beginning. There should be a mandatory kill switch in every phone starting 2015 and a very difficult one to bypass.


Very rare for anyone to want to steal a BlackBerry. Before any trolls chime in, I am talking through the history of smartphones. No one wanted to steal a phone that could not be cracked, hacked, or reused. Theft of phones was not a problem until the iPhone, which could be wiped and reused. Android followed with phones that were even easier to hack into and steal info, then wipe or reload with a different rom.

The easier it is, the more popular it is for thiefs.

Posted via CB10

Well, if you have a Z30, you should test this and it is just a simple switch in your settings.

The point is BlackBerry had been able to do this for at least 5 years (and if you count BES, you make that a decade), but there is totally no mention of this in the piece.

Posted via CB10

Protect is not as good on bb10. The things the article mentions shows how much protect os lacking these days

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

protect on BB10 phones itself sucks but it has the same functionality s as BBOS7 over the internet.
Wipe, loud ring, auto reply, location and etc

Look at that picture!!!! Someone is stealing the phone.

But someone already STOLE THAT GUY'S A$$!!!! Right out of the back of his jeans!!!

BlackBerry Protect already exists for us too, but no mention of it anywhere in this CrackBerry post?

Quite USA centered.

Posted via CB10 on my Z30

Hopefully it doesn't mean if you buy one second hand the person who sold it to you can't just make 1 phone call and lock you out...

Posted via CB10

Yeah, I am also kind of missing a BlackBerry mention here. Especially for 'global' MN posts that deal with all companies it would be nice to include all companies MN actually covers.

I mean "Apple, Google, Microsoft and others", how hard would It have been to add BlackBerry there.
And if they in fact nót joined this initiative, that would also be newsworthy. Not to mention BlackBerry Protect, a service already pre-installed an fulfilling such options.

Of course the message in general is very positive, having a common industry standard for the problem of theft could lead to a big safety improvement for us consumers.

BlackBerry 10 signed.

Read the article people. Protect is a pale shadow of what is trying to be achieved.

Posted via the Android CrackBerry App!

From what's mentioned above, what can BB10 not do?
I can already sync all my photos, files, music in the cloud via Box, Dropbox, OneDrive. I can already sync my emails, contacts, and calendar via ActiveSync. I can remotely lock my phone via the Protect website. I can remotely trace my phone on a map via the Protect website. I can remotely wipe my phone via the protect website. And if I find my phone, I can restore everything as it's all cloud based.

My thoughts exactly... what they listed, I kept thinking what I was missing because I'm pretty sure my phone does this already...

Posted via CB10

They should bring this sooner, it's sad how In some countries people are killing others to obtain their phones...also we can't ignore the fact most governments don't have any suggestions or help to said this policies ... in many places phones are stolen to sell their parts and accessories...

It used to be simple. Phone gets lost or stolen, the company blocks that ESN (from CDMA days) at the switches, making it impossible to activate or use. It could still be that easy, but I guess not.

Even with BlackBerry having individual PIN's, it would be easy for the company to track stolen devices.

Posted via CB10

In the 1980's crack era, people would get shot or stabbed for new Jordan's. Now it's PS4's and crapples.

Posted via CB10

I phoned Orange once as I dissatisfied with their service, after the un-helpful customer service assistant blocked my handset out of spite. It took 2 weeks they the lock lifted.

It's a good thing in a way but, giving these so called helpful customer service people, that don't speak or understand the English language this. Well..... I would happily stick with BlackBerry Protect. Lock, Block, Wipe, Locate. Is basically the same as the phone needs to be switched on for it to work.

Also would it work if the sim was removed as a BlackBerry Protect uses the PIN.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry Protect. Carrier integrated would be a plus though. ;)

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

BlackBerry Protect does most of that and i'm pretty sure that you can contact your carrier and get your device disabled because your device pin has to be registered on their network whether it's unlocked or not. Nothing new here but because it's the "big 3" doing's probably going to be considered ground breaking and revolutionary. *welp*

Posted via CB10

Since I started using BB10 over a year ago. First Z10 and now Z30. AlI did was was take my sim from my Bold 9790 and place it in my Z10 and Z30. My Network Carrier don't know what Device I'm using as they came direct from BlackBerry. So they wouldn't know my PIN to either Z10 or Z30

Posted via CB10

I wonder how easily it would be for the gov't or anyone in control to deactivate the world's smartphones at the flick of a switch. If ever "the system" turns real rogue.

Security is one side, but trust is another. Yes, conthpirathy tinfoil hatter. ;-)

"No Q10?" -> "Buy from Chen... "

The apple service to "recover your phone" is totally useless. It'll tell you where your phone is in a 30 meters radius until your battery dies. Then the thief just has to sell it for a price that covers the unlocking at some cellularX booth and he's got away with 1000$ theft. Its a promise to make you believe

Posted via CB10

One thing I dislike about Protect is that if someone gets to your phone and if your phone isn't pass coded locked they can just turn it off.

You Can Kiss My 

Show me an app or built in feature that is able to differentiate my dna from another...Now you got a system that is reliable!

Via what's really, a BOLD X....on X.II.I

BlackBerry Protect sucks.
They just remove the sim and you can't do anything.
No wipe of the memory, no location, nothing.
Been so disappointed.
You got the unique Pin, phone serial number, bis, bes, whatever, and you can't erase the data in remote? Useless, biggest delusional factor from BlackBerry and his safety/security.

Posted via CB10

Why in hell must consumers wait until next freaking year for this???? Corporate America is soooo freaking greedy!

Posted via CB10

This should not have made it to the CB site at all, because it does not mention BlackBerry Protect. Also this is a one sided article. Either this article be edited to include that BlackBerry already has this feature or taken out.

I understand that it's a mobile nation article but if CB is part of mobile nation then this article should contain references to BlackBerry Protect.

Posted via CB10

Didn't BlackBerry have this already or something almost as effective in BlackBerry Protect? the old version or legacy line that is.
I noticed that it's not that well implemented in BB10.
BlackBerry needs to carry it over and beef it up to the level where once it's registered to an individual only that individual can assign it over to someone else. Like if they sell it or give it away. But if it's stolen well once it's locked either on line or at the device then no matter what, even if they try to reset it, it can't be done. so it becomes a "Brick" in the any body else's hands but the owner.

Z10 Post.....

I thought mobile nations writers were supposed to be knowledgeable about other platforms and os's????

I guess that only applies to apple and andriod smh...

Posted via CB10

If Protect doesn't quite work when the phone gets wiped (i.e. the installation gets wiped,) they should make it a system app of sorts, that restores after a wipe like the clock, calendar, dialer, etc. do. I mean, they're most likely going to have to pre-install it, right? Also, tie it to the phone's PIN, if it isn't already. That way, when the SIM's out, you can still track it.

BTW, can I automatically assume an NSA stamp of approval for this overall effort?

Sounds like yet another BlackBerry feature is going to rip-off and profit from.

Sent from my BlackBerry Z30