Rep. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, and Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee and former chairman of the Communications, Technology and the Internet Subcommittee, released the following statements in response to the new effort announced today by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), law enforcement agencies, and the major wireless companies to address the increasing problem of cell phone theft. A recent study by Norton indicated that one in three individuals experience cell phone loss or theft, and a Symantec study of 50 Android phones in major cities found that more than 95 percent of people who found missing phones tried to access sensitive personal information.
Last month, Rep. Markey joined Reps. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) and Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.) in sending letters to nineteen carriers, handset manufacturers, and operating system developers seeking information on how they address cell phone theft.
"Today, theft of a cell phone means more than just having to buy a new one," said Rep. Eshoo. "Consumers are relying on their mobile devices for far more than just making calls. A cell phone in the hands of a thief could expose sensitive financial information, confidential contacts, or even a consumer's personal schedule. Imagine a criminal abducting a child because they had access to the exact time and place the parent is supposed to pick them up, or a fraudster racking up debt on stolen credit card information programmed into a mobile app. When a thief swipes a mobile device, it's a major breach of personal privacy, a threat, and can wreak havoc. The FCC's planned database takes a smart approach to mitigate theft of cell phones by utilizing the latest mobile technologies and partnering with wireless carriers."
"I commend the FCC for its leadership in coordinating this new effort to address the rising tide of mobile device theft," said Rep. Markey. "I also commend the participating wireless companies for their good corporate citizenship and commitment to protect consumers, who are too often further victimized with the theft of sensitive information located on stolen cell phones. Consumers use their mobile devices to communicate and connect, but they also should be able to permanently disconnect devices to prevent them from being further compromised. I look forward to receiving the responses from the companies we queried and continuing to work with my colleagues on this important issue."