updated 04:14 pm EDT, Thu September 19, 2013
'Secure our Smartphones' group notes that there is still more work to do
The "Secure Our Smartphones" joint effort between the San Francisco District Attorney and the New York Attorney General has noted the introduction of Apple's "Activation Lock" feature in iOS 7 and fingerprint identification in the iPhone 5s, calling Activation Lock "an important first step towards ending the global epidemic of smartphone theft."
The two law enforcement officials said in a joint statement that "while it is too early to tell if Activation Lock will be a comprehensive solution to the epidemic of 'Apple Picking' crimes that have victimized iPhone and iPad owners around the world, we believe it is a step forward and strongly urge iPhone users to download iOS 7, and most importantly, ensure they utilize both an Apple ID and Find My iPhone. We also encourage Apple to make Activation Lock a fully opt-out solution in order to guarantee widespread adoption, and strongly urge the other leading manufacturers of smartphones to quickly implement effective theft deterrents that protect their customers from violent crime."
The pair did remark that while the security improvements are welcome, fingerprint scanning or Activation Lock by themselves aren't an omnibus solution to the problem. Users bear the responsibility to properly implement the features as well. Praise for Apple's efforts was tempered somewhat by noting that the success of Activation Lock as a deterrent is dependent on Apple being able to fend off or patch exploits that are allegedly underway to bypass the feature.
The Secure Our Smartphones (SOS) Initiative coalition is a group of state Attorneys General, major city mayors, DAs, major city police chiefs, state and city Comptrollers, public safety activists and consumer advocates from around the world. The initiative is working to encourage the industry to implement meaningful solutions that will end, or at least slow down what they call the "national epidemic of violent thefts of mobile communications devices such as smartphones and tablets."