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NY officials push for phone 'kill switch' law

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

Many of us think of our smartphones as keeping us safe, but they could be making us targets for criminals. Now a new federal law is being proposed that would make sure smartphone theft is a crime that does not pay.

St. Louis University volleyball star Megan Boken was shot and killed for her smartphone in 2012. Her family members joined New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Rep. Jose Serrano, and Police Commissioner William Bratton to urge the U.S. Congress to mandate disabling technology, so stolen phones could not be re-sold and re-used.

Police say smartphone theft continues to skyrocket while other crime is dropping. Bratton believes the "kill switch," which would make it impossible to reset the phone, would take away the profit motive that drives the black market. Bratton says iPhone thefts started to decline after Apple installed an optional activation lock on its latest model, and that Samsung is looking into a similar feature.

Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest carrier, sent us a statement that says in part: "Verizon supports a free 'kill switch' application for android devices, however no manufacturer has made one available to us. We sell many devices from Apple that have this functionality."

We reached out to the trade association representing the smartphone industry, which would not comment specifically on the kill switch legislation, but says it continues to work with all parties involved to remove the after-market for stolen phones.

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