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FCC head says all phones should come with theft-prevention features

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Federal Communications Commission head Tom Wheeler has called for all smartphone manufacturers and wireless carriers to make it harder for thieves to steal smartphones and other mobile devices. In a statement made yesterday, the FCC chairperson called on the wireless industry to act on advice from the regulatory body, adopting features such as remote locking, remote data-wiping, and the ability to call 911 from the lock screen, all at "no cost to the consumer."

The FCC wants a unified national framework to reduce phone theft

The recommendations come from the FCC's Technical Advisory Committee, which distributed them through its Mobile Device Theft Prevention Working Group. Wheeler's public comments, the FCC says, are intended to push the wireless industry into acting on the recommendations sooner rather than later. The move would clarify disparate laws about phone theft and create a national framework that all phones sold in the US would use.

If the FCC's advice is indeed adopted, mobile users would need to actively disable the theft-prevention features on their own devices. While this opt-out system wouldn't necessarily make it harder for thieves to snatch a phone from a pocket or a bag, it would ensure you'd be able to delete photos, files, and personal information on your phone before criminals can crack into it.