NY asks wireless carriers why they oppose antitheft switch -NYT

New York State attorney general is investigating why American cellphone carriers are yet to support antitheft software on Samsung smartphones, raising questions about possible coordination among the biggest carriers, the New York Times reported.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent letters to top executives of AT&T Inc, Verizon Wireless, Sprint , T-Mobile US Inc and US Cellular, seeking information about their decision to prevent Samsung from featuring a "kill switch" in carrier-approved smartphones, the newspaper said.

The "kill switches" on mobile devices render them inoperable when stolen, eliminating any incentive for theft. "If carriers are colluding to prevent theft-deterrent features from being pre-installed on devices as means to sell more insurance products, they are doing so at the expense of public safety and putting their customers in danger," Schneiderman said in a statement, the New York Times reported.

Schneiderman's office and the five carriers could not be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular US business hours.

In June, Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón met with representatives of Apple, Google Inc's smartphone maker Motorola Mobility, Samsung Electronics and Microsoft Corp to urge them to install the switches to disable stolen smartphones.

Samsung has said it was working on an antitheft solution with the carriers. But last month, Gascón said emails between a Samsung executive and a software developer indicated that the carriers were unwilling to allow Samsung to load the antitheft software on its phones, the NY Times said.

Samsung could not be reached for comment by Reuters.