In a bid to discourage theft, a law requiring smartphones to have a “kill switch” just passed the California Assembly Thursday morning.
Smartphone kill switch bill passed in California
If signed into law by the governor, the California law would require all smartphones include software that enables phone owners to remotely lock it so it cannot be used and wipe the phone of personal data. If the phone is recovered, users can enter a special unlocking code to re-open the phone.
“We are on the verge of implementing regulations that will have tremendous benefits to public safety,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said in a PC World article. “We are on the eve of securing wireless consumers everywhere from the violent threat of theft.”
If the bill becomes law California will mark the second state to pass such a requirement, the first being a law passed in Minnesota in May. Two bills are in the US congress seeking a similar kill switch requirement to the California and Minnesota laws.
The California law needs work, however.
The system must be resistant to thieves who seek to replace the phone’s operating system, the report noted. This is particularly a concern with Andriod’s open operating system and diverse manufacturing partners where controls are not as tight as that of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s more closed iOS operating system.
Smartphone kill switch implementation date
The California law will be implemented on phones manufactured after July 1, 2015.
Proponents of the bill say it will reduce petty thefts that have turned ugly at times.
Smartphone theft has been linked to violent criminal acts even after people volunteer to provide the thieves the phone without resistance.
On February 27th in broad daylight, one report notes, a 16-year old girl was enjoying an afternoon walk through San Francisco’s edgy Mission district when she the butt of a gun delivered the message to hand over the crown jewel of the cell phone. But this wasn’t an isolated incident. In fact it was only one of 10 serious crimes that occurred in the city that day all with one commonality: all the violent crimes involved cell phones. Three involved guns helping perpetrate the cell phone thefts, while three occurred at knife point, and four thefts occurred by plying brute force on the victim.