Smartphone Kill Switch

Jerry Brown

The increase in the theft of smartphones has prompted the Governor of California, Jerry Brown, to sign into law a new initiative which is hoped will remove any incentive for the criminal, reducing crime and associated violence.
Due to come into force at the start of July 2015, the new law will require the manufacturers of smartphones sold within the state to provide a function within the phone that allows the owner to disable it remotely if it is stolen or lost, this security feature would be activated during the initial set up of the phone. The feature will also allow the owner to reactive the device if they find their phone.
The kill switch bill was introduced by Senator Mark Leno in February, supported by San Francisco district attorney, George Gascón. Although other states have legislated in a similar fashion, with Minnesota being the first to insist upon a kill switch for all smartphones, California is the first state that requires the manufacturer to provide the security feature by default. Senator Mark Leno said in a statement “California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” he added “Starting next year, all smartphones sold in California, and most likely every other state in the union, will come equipped with theft deterrent technology when they purchase new phones. Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fuelling street crime and violence within our communities.” Reports say that 2,400 cellphones were stolen during 2013, in San Francisco alone! Figures for the whole of the United States show that around 3 million mobile devices were stolen in 2013, almost double the number stolen during the previous year.
Not everyone is happy with the introduction of the new measures however, with the wireless industry trade organization CTIA arguing against it. A statement from Jamie Hastings, Vice President of external and state affairs for CTIA said “Uniformity in the wireless industry created tremendous benefits for wireless consumers, including lower costs and phenomenal innovation,” Mr Hastings added “State by state technology mandates, such as this one, stifle those benefits and are detrimental to wireless consumers.” The CTIA have already proposed its own “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment”, supported by the five major United States cellular providers along with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Motorola and a number of other major cellphone makers. This form of technology has already proven to be a success as Apple’s own “Find My iPhone” feature, which allows the owner of a stolen phone to remotely disable and wipe it, has already resulted in a large drop in the numbers of iPhones stolen in San Francisco. San Francisco district attorney, George Gascón said “This epidemic has impacted millions across the nation and millions more around the globe,” he said. “But today we turn the page,” he said in a statement. “Seldom can a public safety crisis be addressed by a technological solution, but today wireless consumers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief.”

Thank You Bob Tilden for providing the image

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