Proposed CA bill would require antitheft tech in smartphones

The New York Times is reporting that California State Senator Mark Leno plans to introduce a bill that would require all cell phones sold in the state to include antitheft technology. He hopes to curb smartphone thefts—a major problem in larger cities.

The bill is being co-sponsored by San Francisco DA George Gascón, which isn’t surprising considering he’s long been pushing for Apple and other manufacturers to build ‘kill switches’ in their devices. And if it passes, it could go into effect as early as next year…

The Times has more from Senator Leno:

“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.”

And here’s the essential part of the bill:

“Any advanced mobile communications device that is sold in California on or after January 1, 2015, shall include a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in the possession of the rightful owner. A technological solution may consist of software, hardware, or a combination of both software and hardware, but shall be able to withstand a hard reset. No advanced mobile communications device may be sold in California without the technological solution enabled.”

Judging by the above text, it appears the bill won’t affect Apple, thanks to its new Activation Lock feature in iOS 7. The feature prevents potential thieves from turning off Find My iPhone or wiping a device without first entering the owner’s iCloud password.

In fact, several law-makers, including the aforementioned George Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Scheiderman, have praised the Cupertino company for the feature. And the New York Police Department has also applauded Apple’s efforts.

If the bill gets passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown, it could go into effect as early as January 1, 2015. But officials are expecting strong opposition from groups like the CTIA—which represents the wireless carriers.