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Android Phones To Get Remote Kill Switch

(c) Sky News 2014

Google (NasdaqGS: GOOG - news) and Microsoft (Berlin: MSF.BE - news) have agreed to add remote kill switches to their smartphone operating systems - following in the footsteps of Samsung and Apple (NasdaqGS: AAPL - news) .

The feature allows users to render a phone completely useless if it is lost or stolen, by remotely wiping data and bricking the device.

New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman has been putting pressure on the companies for several months after launching an initiative called Secure Our Smartphones.

iPhone robberies fell 24% in London, 38% in San Francisco, and 19% in New York City after Apple introduced the feature as part of the iOS7 update last September, his report said.

Google - which is behind the Android operating system - and Microsoft have not yet given a date by which all of their phones will be fitted with the feature.

Once it is introduced, it means that around 97% of smartphones on sale in the US can be remotely disabled.

Mr Schneiderman said: "The commitments of Google and Microsoft are giant steps toward consumer safety and the statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of kill switches."

His report said that one in three people in Europe experienced the loss or theft of their phone in 2013.

Wireless industry body CTIA has long opposed the push for any mandatory installation of kill switches.