Things get lost all the time. Sometimes people leave things somewhere public and forget to pick it up again. Sometimes things fall out of someone’s pocket. But sometimes, things get stolen, such as cellphones. Would it not be great if a thief stole a cellphone they would be punished for it? That solution may be a possibility with a kill switch in a cellphone that could prevent future crime.
Creighton University professor William Duckworth’s recent survey suggests that a kill switch for phones can prevent $2.5 billion dollars going down the drain each year. Every day cellphones are being stolen. Cellphones are light, making them easy to pickpocket; there are billions of them, making it difficult to track down; and they some are valuable, giving thieves more incentive.
What would be the advantages of a kill switch? Thieves can easily steal phones without the owner knowing and can use their phones to do crime. Set up a drug deal or a hit-and-run and easily dispose of the phone. These types of phones are called burners. The police can track down which phone is being used to set up meetings and will blame the owner of the phone. With a kill switch the owner can prevent thieves from using them as scapegoats.
Nowadays cellphones can be used as a computer. It can store information, such as personal bank accounts, home security numbers, cellphone numbers of family and friends. Most people do not want to keep remembering passwords so they will have them saved onto their phones. This makes anyone’s personal information vulnerable. Thieves can hack into the owner’s account and move money to a different account.
Relying on technology to prevent crime is probably more effective than relying on human error. Whereas the technology to prevent crime will not be as ideal as something like Pre-Crime from future story Minority Report, but the kill switch for cellphones is a way of fighting fire with fire. There are of course drawbacks to the kill switch. If someone’s phone is stolen, how is the owner going to activate their kill switch if they do not have a phone? If they have to get home and activate the kill switch on their computer, by the time they do that the thief could have stolen everything they needed and dumped the phone. Having a kill switch might make people reckless, not being careful with their phones because they activate the kill switch if anything happens.
If the kill switch becomes available, there will be a moral obligation to prevent future crime from happening rather getting insurance for phones. Getting insurance may help someone get their phone replaced, but as a whole the problem of theft is not solved. It will just keep happening over and over again. This new idea of a kill switch might not become very popular. Cellphones are perceived by many as disposable. They are becoming cheaper and more powerful each year, so going to the trouble of applying a kill switch for each phone might be too much of a hassle for most. If not do this for the moral obligation, than perhaps people could apply the kill switch for the satisfaction of knowing whoever stole their phone, they went to all that trouble for nothing.
Opinion By Ignacio Gatti