Not all of us have had our iPhones disappear only to wind up in the hands of camera-happy teens in Morocco, but we can all appreciate the problem: Having your smartphone stolen sucks. That’s why news out of the attorney general’s office comes as a relief. Eric Schneiderman, his bud Delaware A.G. Beau Biden, and 29 other state attorneys general have sent a letter to Google/Motorola, Samsung, and Microsoft urging them to beef up anti-theft technologies on their products.
The hope is that the weight of 31 state attorneys general offices will get manufacturers to recognize the scale of the smartphone theft and its attendant black market, commonly known as “Apple Picking,” we’re told.
As one of Schneiderman’s favorite causes, smartphone theft has been high on his agenda. Alongside San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, Schneiderman formed the Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S.) initiative this past June. The initiative, made up of attorneys general, district attorneys, and police chiefs from across the U.S., seeks to encourage the development of technologies to make the resale of smartphones more difficult.
Of course, the emphasis has never been on securing the personal information of private citizens, though you’d think that a certain scandal involving a certain eavesdropping spook agency would mobilize a similar effort. Rather the fear is that smartphone theft is a gateway crime, fueling street-level violence. It’s not an idle concern: In 2012, 20 percent of robberies in New York City involved a smartphone.
“Smartphones have become a part of our everyday lives. Over half of the U.S. population owns a smartphone creating an environment ripe for violent street crimes,” said Gascón in the June press release announcing S.O.S.
The 29 states and two territories signing the A.G.’s letter are Arizona, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont.