‘Kill switch’ proposed
Legislation unveiled Friday in California would require smartphones and other mobile devices to have a “kill switch” to render them inoperable if lost or stolen — a move that could be the first of its kind in the country.
State Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and other elected and law enforcement officials said the bill, if passed, would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the anti-theft devices starting next year.
A trade group for wireless providers says, however, that a permanent kill switch has serious risks, including potential vulnerability to hackers who could disable mobile devices and lock out not only individuals’ phones but also phones used by entities such as the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and law enforcement agencies.
The association has been working on a national stolen phone database that launched in November to remove any market for stolen smartphones.
Almost one in three U.S. robberies involve phone theft, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Lost and stolen mobile devices — mostly smartphones — cost consumers more than $30 billion in 2012, the agency said in a study.
Agency’s losses mounting
The Postal Service lost $354 million over the last three months, and officials warned that mounting losses could lead to cash-flow problems for the rest of the year, the agency said Friday.
The loss was far less than the $1.3 billion in the comparable quarter the previous fiscal year, but Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe continued to press Congress to give the agency more flexibility to manage its finances.
The report for the financial quarter ending December 31 comes as Congress works toward fixing the agency’s troubled finances.
On Thursday, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee approved a bill that would end Saturday mail delivery and make permanent a temporary hike in the cost of a first-class stamp, which went from 46 to 49 cents on Jan. 26.
Sony lowers forecast
Sony is in talks to sell its troubled personal computer business and lowered its earnings forecast for the business year ending March to a $1.1 million loss.
The company is cutting its global workforce by about 3 percent, or 5,000 people, by the end of March 2015 as it restructures its PC, television and other businesses. Some 3,500 of the job losses will be overseas and 1,500 in Japan. That comes on top of the 10,000 job cuts Sony announced over the previous year.
The Japanese electronics and entertainment maker, battered by stiff competition from Samsung of South Korea and Apple, acknowledged it won’t be able to stop losing money in its Vaio PC or Bravia TV operations as it had repeatedly promised.
Sony said it will split off its money-losing TV division and run it as a wholly owned subsidiary.
Apple buys back shares
Apple has repurchased $14 billion of its stock in the two weeks after its first-quarter financial results and second-quarter revenue outlook disappointed investors.
The buyback news helped lift Apple’s stock by more than 1 percent Friday.
Apple Inc. bought $12 billion worth of its shares through an accelerated repurchase program and $2 billion on the open market, the company confirmed.
The company increased its investments because CEO Tim Cook believed the stock had become a bargain after a recent downturn.
Pig virus studied
A virus sweeping through the nation’s hog industry is killing piglets at an increasingly alarming rate, threatening to hamper production and lead to higher retail pork prices.
Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) surfaced in the United States last spring but has accelerated during the winter. The virus often wipes out an entire barn’s young pig population, with piglets dehydrating, unable to retain nutrients from their mothers’ milk.
Compiled from staff and wire reports.