In April 2012, CTIA and participating wireless companies (AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon) along with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and law enforcement agencies, announced four voluntary steps the wireless industry would take to help deter smartphone thefts and protect consumer data. Included in the four steps was a database designed to prevent GSM smartphones that were reported as stolen from being activated or provided service in the U.S. by October 31, 2012.
Sphere headed by wireless carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, the group launched a stolen-phone database. The idea behind the joint project to put a stop to the market for stolen phones and other electronic devices and by ensuring they can't be used again. When the system is fully in effect, you should be able to report a phone as lost or stolen at your carrier's site, by calling or in one of its stores. It will then add that phone to this blacklist, locking it out from further voice or data use–on its network or anybody except for calling 911.
One issue that has not been fully addressed is what happens if a phone was lost and found and the finder happens to be a Good Samaritan who is willing to return the lost and found phone but has no way of doing so because the device is locked or has a dead battery? ReturnMyShit.com seems to have the solution to the above question – QR Code. After a user registers, ReturnMyShit.com generates a profile with a unique QR code with a personalized web-page (URL) containing the user's profile information. The code printed on a label will be mail to the customer. If a lost-and-found device is found, the finder will simply scan the code and will be taken directly to the personalized web-page (URL) containing the user's profile information – alternate telephone number, email address etc.
According to FCC, the joint project is divided into four stages:
1. Implement Databases to Prevent Reactivation of Stolen smartphones. Milestone: Completed
2A. Notify Consumers of Features to Secure/Lock Smartphones with Passwords. Milestone: Completed
2B. Educate Consumers About Features to Secure/Lock Smartphones with Passwords. Smartphone makers will include information on how to secure/lock new smartphones in-box and/or through online “Quick Start” or user guides. Milestone: Completion: December 31, 2012.
3. Inform Consumers about Applications to Remotely Lock/Locate/Erase Data from Smartphones. Wireless providers will inform consumers, including through email or text messages, about the existence of – and access to – applications that can lock/locate/erase data from smartphones. Wireless providers will educate consumers about how to access these applications, including applications preloaded onto smartphones, in an easy-to-find place. Milestone: Substantial Progress: December 31, 2012. Completion: April 30, 2013.
4. Educate Consumers about Smartphone Theft, Protections, and Preventative Measures. The wireless industry will launch a campaign to educate consumers regarding the safe use of smartphones and highlight solutions described in 1 through 3 above through a range of initiatives that will include Public Service Announcements, with media buys, and the use of unique websites, social media, and more. Milestone: Educational initiatives will begin by July 1, 2012