S.F. district attorney pleased with Apple, Samsung progress on anti-theft tech for smartphones

“Clear improvements” have been made in future technologies aimed at deterring thieves from stealing smartphones, District Attorney George Gascón said Friday.

Last week, representatives from Apple and Samsung brought anti-theft technology they are developing to the District Attorney's Office for review by technical experts.

Apple's Activation Lock and Samsung's Lojack for Android were tested during a Thursday meeting. Gascón said he could not discuss the technologies that were examined, as the products are not finalized, but he did say Apple told him it's planning to release anti-theft technology in the fall.

“I'm very optimistic that they came and were willing to share their technology with us,” Gascón said, adding that Microsoft and Google have yet to come forward with anti-theft solutions.

Gascón vowed not to drop the issue until all the major manufacturers release technology that will help deter thieves.

Last month, Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman launched the Secure Our Smartphones initiative, which called for the development of kill switches that would remotely disable smartphones in the event of theft.

The technology presented Thursday shows that the question is no longer whether the technology exists but when it will be available to the public, according to Gascón's office.

Gascón and Schneiderman have called for the technology to reach the marketplace by the middle of next year.

Nearly one in three robberies nationwide involves a cellphone, according to the Federal Communications Commission. In San Francisco, about half of all robberies last year involved such devices.

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