There are certain security features that has the potential to turn away your average smartphone thief. Biometric security and features like Activation Lock are some of them, but the potential to remotely kill a smartphone would probably help deter smartphone theft even further, which is why it is not surprising that law enforcement officials are pushing for such a feature to be included in smartphones shipped and sold in the US.
Carriers have naturally resisted implementing such features because when a phone is stolen, customers will have no choice but to fork out a new one, or at least pay for a higher insurance coverage plan that will cover scenarios like phones being stolen. This is all revenue for carriers and by reducing smartphone theft, it would reduce the need for replacement phones and insurance as well.
According to a report from William Duckworth, an associate professor of statistics, data, science, and analytics at Creighton University, he found that by implementing a kill switch, a bulk of the money consumers would be able to save would come from reduced insurance premiums. Duckworth has estimated that Americans are currently paying $580 million a year replacing stolen phones, and that they are paying $4.8 billion for handset insurance.
He estimates that by implementing a kill switch, consumers could end potentially saving $2.58 billion a year, although that number does seem a little too good to be true since kill switches will probably not deter all smartphone thieves, but we can understand where he is coming from. Duckworth also conducted a survey of 1,200 smartphone owners and found that 99% thought that carriers should implement a kill switch and that 83% believed it would reduce smartphone theft.
As it stands such a system is now being proposed as a bill by the US Senate, US House of Representatives, and the California State Senate that if passed, would make it mandatory to have such a system in place.