While the Activation Lock feature in iOS 7 received faint praise from government officials in the past, they are now urging iOS device owners to upgrade to Apple’s latest mobile operating system to help head off successful device theft.
The Attorneys General for New York and San Francisco issued a joint statement on Thursday following the launch of iOS 7. The statement praised iOS 7’s Activation Lock feature as “an important first step towards ending the global epidemic of smartphone theft.”
“In the months ahead,” the statement reads, “it is our hope that Activation Lock will prove to be an effective deterrent to theft, and that the widespread use of this new system will end the victimization of iPhone users, as thieves learn that the devices have no value on the secondary market. We are particularly pleased that – because Activation Lock is a feature associated with Apple’s new operating system as opposed to a new device – it will be available to consumers with older phone models who download the free upgrade.”
San Francisco District Attorney General George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have called upon phone makers in the past to build tougher security features into their devices. The two have specifically requested a “kill switch” on the operating system, or base device level that will allow a device to be rendered inoperable if stolen.
Apple’s Activation Lock, which requires the entry of the owner’s Apple ID and password before allowing the user to turn off Find My iPhone, erase data, or reactivate a device after it has been erased, includes many of the requested changes.
The two officials, while giving faint praise made sure to express their belief that “months of pressure from a global coalition of elected officials and law enforcement agencies” was the reason for the new feature. (In other words, “Be sure to vote for me!”)