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Parliamentary questions
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13 June 2014
E-005353/2014(ASW)
Answer given by Ms Kroes on behalf of the Commission
Question reference: E-005353/2014

The Commission does not have statistics measuring the extent of smartphone thefts and how these contribute to the overal criminality rates.

The best known solution of blacklisting the stolen smartphone by network operators and making them useless should discourage the theft of these devices. This list is stored in the Central Equipment Identity Register for network operators so that devices denied service (blacklisted) by one network can be denied access on other networks. The engagement of governments and law enforcement agencies with the network operator community continues in a number of markets where handset theft is perceived to be a problem, and GSMA encourages maximal use of the register. But this is no longer sufficient to discourage theft because these phones can indeed be sold in third countries or simply hacked in order to erase their identity.

A hardware ‘kill switch’ for mobile phones that would incapacitate them permanently is a simple technical solution proposed by the experts. Other technical solutions may exist. The Commission has so far promoted horizontal and principle-based approaches rather than technology-specific measures. Currently the Commission has no plans to introduce legislation that would make a hardware kill switch mandatory.

In line with the existing data protection Directive (EC 95/46) and in the wake of a larger deployment of smartphones for services storing personal data, the Commission encourages handset providers and mobile operators to introduce a wipe-all functionality that would make it possible to permanently erase all the sensitive data on the mobile handset when needed.

OJ C 413, 19/11/2014
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