Tags: california | kill switch | smartphone | bill

California: Kill Switch Required on All Smartphones Starting July 2015

Image: California: Kill Switch Required on All Smartphones Starting July 2015
(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 10:17 AM

California signed a "kill switch" bill on Monday to ensure that smartphone users can deactivate their devices remotely if they're stolen.

USA Today reported that 1.6 million Americans had handheld devices stolen in 2012, and Senate Bill 962 requires all smartphone manufacturers selling devices in the Golden State after July 1, 2015, to have such a feature. The legislation was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Monday. Because the California consumer market is so large, the move is likely to get all cell phone manufacturers to adopt the technology.

In addition to protecting consumer security and privacy, legislators expect the kill switches to act as a deterrent to would-be thieves by allowing owners to render their devices worthless if and when they are stolen. Without kill switches, cell phones are easy to resell on the black market.

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"California has just put smartphone thieves on notice," state senator Mark Leno said in a statement.

"Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities."

According to Time magazine, local police departments across the nation were continuing to see a manifold increase in petty theft as smartphone adoption continues to increase. The new legislation should help reduce the number of theft reports departments are processing, and allow officers and support staff more opportunity to focus on more serious crimes.

Upon passage of the legislation, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón released a statement that said in part, "This epidemic has impacted millions across the nation and millions more around the globe. But today we turn the page. Seldom can a public safety crisis be addressed by a technological solution, but today wireless consumers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief."

Gascón had previously stated that phone manufacturers were likely reluctant to adopt anti-theft technologies because it threatened a lucrative $7 billion phone-insurance market. By not adopting the technology, the manufacturers were in a sense bleeding taxpayers by clogging police departments with phone thefts.

Opponents of the bill worry that kill switch technology could be hijacked by hackers, and allow them to remotely "brick" a victims phone, turning it into nothing more than an expensive paperweight.

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California signed a "kill switch" bill on Monday to ensure that smartphone users can deactivate their devices remotely if they're stolen.
california, kill switch, smartphone, bill
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2014-17-26
Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 10:17 AM
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