New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is urging iPhone owners to download the latest version of Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) mobile operating system in order to take advantage of a theft deterrent feature known as Activation Lock. Schneiderman noted that the Activation Lock feature “is an important first step towards ending the global epidemic of smartphone theft.”
According to Apple, this feature prevents thieves from disabling the Find My iPhone application even if the phone data is erased. It also requires the owner’s Apple ID and passcode in order to reactivate the phone.
“We are particularly pleased that — because Activation Lock is a feature associated with Apple’s new operating system as opposed to a new device — it will be available to consumers with older phone models who download the free upgrade,” said Schneiderman in a statement jointly released with San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.
Schneiderman and Gascón spearheaded the Secure Our Smartphone (S.O.S) Initiative coalition. The government-led coalition seeks to encourage smartphone manufacturers and telecommunications companies to implement solutions to the increasingly widespread problem of smartphone theft. According to the Federal Communications Commission, nearly 1 in 3 robberies in the U.S. involves the theft of a mobile phone.
The two government officials also encouraged consumers to utilize other basic iPhone security features such as a standard passcode and the new fingerprint-enabled Touch ID authentication system. However, they urged smartphone owners to “be aware of their surroundings at all times, especially when using their smartphones in public places.”
Apple first announced iOS 7’s Activation Lock feature at the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Craig Federighi, Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, told the WWDC audience that he thought Activation Lock “is going to be a really powerful theft deterrent.”
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