Led by the US Federal Communications Commission (F.C.C.), government authorities and the wireless phone industry are fast on the heels of a national database that could track down hijacked smartphones and render them useless once reported stolen.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that officials of the communications commission are set to meet today in Washington with police authorities from New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland, and with representatives from a wireless industry trade group to announce the new plan.
F.C.C. chairman Julius Genachowski said the planned central database will allow wireless providers to block and disable a device once its owner reports that the smartphone has been stolen.
The official said they are also working with members of the US Congress for the passage of legislation that would make it a federal offense for anyone to tamper with a smartphone’s unique identifying systems and safeguards in efforts to override the blocking process.
Authorities were also reportedly finalizing systems that would allow smartphone owners to remotely lock their phones or delete personal information, as well as to track their devices when found missing.
The four largest US wireless service providers – AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile—are expected within the next six months to put in place systems that would disable smartphones once they are reported as stolen, rendering them useless within the four networks.
They are set to pool these data into a working central database by the end of next year.
The New York Times has reported that based on last year’s data, one in every three robberies nationwide in the US involved the theft of a smartphone, with such crimes increasing rapidly in highly urbanized areas.