California smartphone ‘kill switch’ bill passes state legislature

By , Aug 11, 2014

iphone theft

Earlier this year, California Senator Mark Leno introduced a new bill that would require cellphone makers to install ‘kill switches’ in all of their handsets, rendering them inoperable when stolen. The move comes as smartphone thefts continue to rise in major US cities.

Unsurprisingly, Leno’s bill won Senate approval by a vote of 27-8 today, meaning that it’s just one step away from becoming law in the state of California. All it needs now is Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, and device manufacturers will have essentially a year to comply…

Here’s a statement from Leno on the legislation (via Recode):

“With robberies of smartphones reaching an all-time high, California cannot continue to stand by when a solution to the problem is readily available,” Senator Leno said in a statement. “Today we are officially stepping in and requiring the cellphone industry to take the necessary steps to curb violent smartphone thefts and protect the safety of the very consumers they rely upon to support their businesses.”

An earlier version of the bill stated that all advanced mobile devices should feature the so-called kill switch, but it has since been revised to state only smartphones. As such, several carriers and tech firms, including Apple, Google and Samsung have pledged their support.

San Francisco’s District Attorney’s office says that more than half of all robberies in the city in 2012 involved the theft of a mobile device. And according to the Federal Communications Commission, between 30 and 40%  of all thefts in major cities are smartphone-related.

Of course, Apple has already taken some steps to try to help curb smartphone thefts by introducing Activation Lock in iOS 7. The feature isn’t perfect, but it has made a positive impact. It sounds like what this new California bill calls for, though, is something far more potent.

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  • Christian Mejía

    How will they enforce these laws?
    How do they know the iPhones will be sold in Cali?

  • T_Will

    Thanks nanny-state!

  • gittlopctbi

    I’m curious to see if kill switches will really deter crime. I’m also curious to see how long it will take perps to figure a way around it. And lastly, I’m always leery of anything that CA does.

    • Soylent Green

      Dude go have a read of the truth at infowars(dot)com, you sound like you dont just believe what the ‘news says’ straight of the bat, especially with the rollouts starting in cali, im going to find out the average documented IQ in california, id bet my house they are pumped to the eyeballs with fluoride & estrogen mimickers that they admit they put in the water.
      And they say we are crazeeeeeee, we just know too much! :s

  • maurice

    This all sounds good but what can they do when they steal the smartphone to then sell the parts as replacements? Here in Mexico they actually have stores where they sell these stolen parts

    • Antzboogie

      Snitch.

    • Soylent Green

      Exactly mate, you see theres something not right, living in mexico you will know first hand what this really means, as you know if they disarm citizens the crime rate goes sky high. In your country some ranchers got armed and ran the cartels out of town,the us running guns into mexico (on record admitted) under ‘fast@furious’ the border guard being stood down and allkinds of dreggs of latin america pouring over the open border for there welfare check. They need a kill switch in obaaaaama.

  • Antzboogie

    What happens if a carrier gets hacked and all our smartphones get kill switched? Dumb idea.

    • https://twitter.com/aidanharris1 Aidan Harris

      It won’t be a carrier thing (at least I doubt it). It’ll likely be a killswitch activated via iCloud (FindMyiPhone) or by logging into a page on Google, Microsoft, etc…

      EDIT: Although what I would like to see on a carrier front is free data for these killswitches so that you can always track your device…

  • David Hvilivitzki

    Allowing hackers to kill your phone remotely, nice …..

  • Micaiah Martin

    Ha! Death to free market! Thank you! Ya big nanny state!

    • Soylent Green

      Onward the nwo march

  • Soylent Green

    Everything tested in cali, the home of the very pliable people. This “kill switch” as you will see (in the us) is for when you guys hit marshall law. This “take your libertys for your own safety” must be getting a bit obvious to even playdoh brain californians, no?
    Thats why the border guard have been stood down, open borders with hundreds of thusands of south americas finest pouring over constantly ( thats mainstream dino-media news now), its all about destabilisation, create a crisis and say they can fix it, then they take libertys away but its “for your safety” – the fact that they are making a kill switch law provides the clue. They already have all kinds of ‘kill switches’ like imei block, oh but thats too technical, they need a big red cartoon switch style one tho.

  • Sinistry

    I think I won’t be buying a device that hands control over to authorities at their discretion.