A few California lawmakers are pushing for a new bill to target smartphone theft. This bill would require phones to have a “kill switch” which would shut down a device if it was ever stolen.

Smartphone Kill Switch

A new law to protect smartphone owners

San Francisco Senator Mark Leno along with other lawmakers plan to introduce the bill during then legislative session then conduct hearings in the spring. Proponents of the bill claim the “kill switch” could lower smartphone thefts. This particular crime accounts for about 30% to 40% of all robberies in the nation. In the city of San Francisco, smartphone theft is an even greater problem.

The law isn’t telling phone makers like Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. (LON:BC94) (KRX:005930) or Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) how to make the “kill switch”, but the companies would still have to meet certain criteria after January 1, 2015. The requirements include the concept that all phones and tablets must feature a “kill switch” that would allow customers to shut down all their important features as well as give customers the opportunity to either opt in or opt out of the feature.

How this bill would help prevent thefts

Leno made the following statement: “With robberies of smartphones reaching an all-time high, California cannot continue to stand by when a solution to the problem is readily available. Today we are officially stepping in and requiring the cell phone 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.”

If passed, this bill would require manufacturers or carriers to pay a penalty if phones are not equipped with the anti-theft feature. The main reason most tech companies are hesitant to install the switch is because of insurance. The insurance market for smartphones is a lucrative business as carriers earn their fair share selling insurance and phone replacements. This bill could change that.