Android 5.0 Lollipop officially introduces a “kill switch” to Android. That kill switch lets users instantly deactivate their device after it’s been lost or stolen.
After you press the kill switch, all data will be wiped from the device and factory settings will be restored.
Sounds like a great idea, right? After all, Apple implemented a similar feature into the iPhone and thefts have been reduced dramatically according to early reports. Police chiefs have already praised Android for this decision.
But there’s one problem with Android’s new kill switch: it’s not as good as people think.
You see, Android’s kill switch comes with one major flaw. This flaw makes the kill switch significantly less effective.
What is that flaw? Well, Factory reset protection requires two things in order to work:
-A Google ID and password
-Enabled lockscreen passcode
As a result, it’s considered an opt-in service, not an opt-out service. Since the majority of users likely won’t opt-in to the program, it’s unknown how effective this system will be at actually reducing smartphone thefts.
Ultimately, this flaw has led some to say that the new “kill switch” doesn’t really kill anything: it just maims.
To make matters worse, it does not comply with California’s new kill switch bill
Kill switch bill sounds like a remake of Kill Bill, or something. But the kill switch bill is a legitimate law which has been passed through the California state legislature.
That law requires all smartphones sold in California after July 2015 to come pre-installed with anti-theft technology like a kill switch. California is the first state to pass such a bill.
Unfortunately, since Google’s kill switch program is considered an “opt-in” program, not an “opt-out”, program, it doesn’t fit the requirements of the bill.
That means Google still has some work to do if it truly wants to deter Android thefts.