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London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis Mark Rowley met with Apple, Samsung, and Google on Tuesday in hopes of pushing them to “design out” their smartphones to deter unit robberies. It is reportedly a response to the surge in phone thefts, with Metropolis Police claiming an average of 157 cases of the said crime happening daily in the UK.

Rowley shared the figures this week (via Daily Mail), saying the Met Police has recorded a total of 57,174 cases of smartphone theft in the UK. Based on the data in the past 12 months, this reportedly translates to a 28% increase in the said crime. The police commissioner said the team made “multiple arrests and seized more than 70 stolen phones at a shop selling them onwards” over the weekend. However, the efforts and the country’s law are not apparently enough to deter this, leading the UK to run to the tech giants instead to find “a practical and long-term solution to ending the menace of mobile phone crime.”

“Right now, it is far too easy and profitable for criminals to repurpose and sell on stolen phones,” Khan said. “That must change and is why, alongside strengthening neighbourhood policing and record investment in supporting the police to go after the worst offenders, the Commissioner and I are now working closely with mobile phone industry to develop innovative and technological solutions that make a stolen phone far less desirable and usable by thieves.”

The authorities didn’t share specific details on what exactly they want the tech giants to do to address the issue. Yet, the commissioner suggested pushing the companies to devise the plan themselves, translating to additional pressure the UK government is already dropping on the shoulders of the big tech players.

“…until we design out the ability for phones to be used in the way they currently are, we will be stuck in a vicious circle,” Rowley noted.

According to Khan, the idea is to “develop innovative and technological solutions that make a stolen phone far less desirable and usable by thieves.” However, this is already being observed in almost all smartphones in the market through different sections of their systems, which include the use of passwords and biometric authentications. Apple also offers Touch ID and Face ID as an additional layer of protection for its users.

Aside from those, there are also setting options and other features that allow users to secure their data (and even automatically wipe them out in case of theft) and even track their units. On the other hand, in case the stolen iPhone is sold for its components, parts pairing system could be a solution, a practice Apple is already doing on its devices like iPhones.

Smartphone theft crime apparently continues despite these features and capabilities in devices, as criminals always have their means and specialized devices to unlock stolen devices despite all the security protections added to the devices. With this, the UK practically wants the smartphone industry and its players to come up with a whole new solution that will permanently end the problem that has been present for ages. What will that solution be? The UK authorities say it is now the problem of Apple, Samsung, and Google to solve.


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