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Samsung Appeases San Francisco DA's Request For Smartphone Anti-Theft Feature

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— In a major victory for San Francisco's District Attorney George Gascon, Samsung has agreed to make anti-theft features available on its latest smartphone.

Gascon has been working with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to get cell phone companies and carriers to agree to make the 'kill-switch' feature available on all mobile communication devices in order to render them useless if stolen.

There has been plenty of resistance to this initiative since the combined business of replacing cell phones and selling insurance generates nearly $38 billion in income a year for the mobile communications industry.

Gascon said the manufacturer has agreed to include the new anti-theft feature on their Galaxy S5 phones, sold by Verizon and U.S. Cellular.

Samsung Appeases San Francisco DA's Request For Smartphone Anti-Theft Feature

"I think this is a huge step," Gascon said. "Samsung being able to get Verizon and U.S. Cellular to agree to have this pre-loaded into the system is going to be incredible."

Gascon said that half of all robberies in San Francisco for 2013 involved mobile communication devices.

"This year at the beginning of the year that number jumped to 67 percent of all the robberies in the city. We're hearing numbers from Oakland that they might be as high as 76-77 percent," Gascon said.

The district attorney said he's confident that other smartphone and mobile device carriers will follow suit, getting on board with Samsung's decision and that a bill making its way through the legislature will eventually require that they do so.

Consumers would be able to opt out of the kill switch feature.

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