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Recycling Industry Adopts Kill Switch Policy

Failure to allow recyclers access limits reuse of devices

Recycling Industry Adopts Kill Switch Policy

At its recent Board of Directors meeting, the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), t announced an official position calling for recyclers to have the ability to turn off activation locks, or “kill switches,” on legitimate technological devices thereby allowing them to be reused. In the current environment, Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) hold the only keys needed to unlock or un-kill these devices.

“As it stands now, OEMs have an unfair advantage in the marketplace as being the only ones with the ability to turn off a kill switch on a cell phone or other technological device,” said Robin Wiener, president of ISRI. “All device owners, whether they be recyclers or otherwise, should have the same ability to turn off the kill switch for the purpose of legitimately reusing these devices.”

ISRI members report that up to about five percent of cell phones purchased by recyclers and refurbishers are unable to be repaired or re-enter the marketplace because the kill switch has been enabled. This number is expected to grow dramatically starting next year, as almost all new cell phones will likely contain kill switches. Without access to disengage these devices, recyclers are unable to return such non-stolen, good working devices back into the domestic and global marketplace.

The policy states, “ISRI supports voluntary and legislative efforts that provide device owners, including recyclers and refurbishers, with convenient and reasonable access to procedures and technology from telecommunication carriers and electronics manufacturers necessary to turn off or disengage any activation locks, “kill switches,” carrier locks, or other locks for technological devices that are not stolen or lost in order to maximize the use, maintenance and reuse of such devices.”

Currently at the Federal level, the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act (S. 2032/H.R. 4065) would require manufacturers to include remote deletion capability (i.e. kill switch software) in cell phones sold in the U.S. market. While ISRI supports efforts to protect consumers and deter theft, the bill does not provide qualified recyclers and refurbishers with reasonable access to ensure the cell phone is not stolen or to disable such software, both of which are necessary to maximize the value of the cell phone and return it to the reuse market.

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