South Korea’s ministry responsible for ICT told the country’s smartphone manufacturers they must load a ‘kill switch’ in all new devices, according to Korea Joongang Daily.
A kill switch allows customers to remotely disable stolen or lost devices.
The announcement comes against a backdrop of a sharp rise in the number of mobile phones reported stolen in South Korea.
According to data from South Korea’s National Police Agency, cited by Korea Joongang Daily, the number of devices reported stolen has jumped more than five times in four years – from 5,575 in 2009 to 31,075 in 2012.
The kill switch is in-built into Samsung’s Galaxy S5, which saw its formal global launch last week (11 April), although local operators have already started selling the device.
All successive smartphones released by Samsung in South Korea – according to the ministry – will come loaded with the de-activate function.
LG Electronics, reports Korea Joongang Daily, will start installing the kill switch in Q3. Pantech, the country’s smallest handset maker, has been embedding the function since last year.
According to the report, Samsung has already said it will include a kill switch, named Reactivation Lock, on Galaxy S5 phones sold in the US.
US Congress is considering legislation that would make installation of a kill switch mandatory in mobile devices.
There have been growing calls for mobile device makers to go down the kill switch route. One initiative is Secure Our Smartphones (SOS), co-chaired by New York State attorney general Eric Schneiderman, San Francisco district attorney George Gascon and London mayor Boris Johnson.
In a letter sent to US operators in December, Schneiderman accused them of making it difficult for Samsung to preload a kill switch onto certain smartphones.
Samsung responded by saying it was in discussions with operators in the US about a kill switch on its Galaxy Note 3, with some operators saying they will support free and secure kill switch applications.