Print 37 comment(s) - last by JediJeb.. on Feb 10 at 5:55 PM

The idea is to prevent theft

A new California bill could force mobile smartphone and tablet makers to place a "kill switch" on their devices in order to prevent theft. 

According to The New York Times, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) is expected to introduce the bill Friday, which would require all smartphones and tablets sold in California to have a kill switch. 

Having a feature like this would make the smartphone or tablet unusable if it were stolen. In turn, Leno hopes that this will curb robberies of mobile devices, since they would be more difficult to sell that way.

The bill, which is sponsored by George Gascón --San Francisco’s district attorney -- would make it so phones sold in California on or after Jan. 1, 2015 are required to have kill switches. Those who fail to do so could face fines of up to $2,500 for each device sold.

Sen. Mark Leno. [SOURCE: ABC News]

“With robberies of smartphones reaching an all-time high, California cannot continue to stand by when a solution to the problem is readily available,” said Leno. “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.”

However, CTIA -- the industry trade group that represents mobile carriers like AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile -- said a kill switch isn't the answer because hackers could take control of the feature and disable other phones. Also, it noted that the original owners wouldn't be able to reactivate their phone if they manage to find it. 

While solutions like a nationwide database of phones reported stolen has been put in place, theft rates are still high. In San Francisco alone, 2,400 cellphones were stolen last year, which represents a 23 percent increase from 2012. 

The city has especially tried to tackle iPhone theft, as the Apple smartphone remains a popular target. Last April, San Francisco Police Capt. Joe Garrity described how the cross at Seventh and Market Street in downtown San Francisco is the main place for selling/buying stolen iPhones. The report noted that about 48 percent of San Francisco residents use an iPhone. 

Source: The New York Times

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Worried yet? You should be.
By Danger3000 on 2/7/2014 1:37:30 PM , Rating: 5
If they implement a killswitch, they can interfere with protests (i.e. free speech), and it lends itself to misuse, hacking, etc. And if someone can hack the killswitch off, I'm sure they'll be able to turn it on again as well.
This is what happens when people unfamiliar with technology try to create laws for technology. Useless legislation, period.

RE: Worried yet? You should be.
By ritualm on 2/7/2014 2:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
It's similar to what's already happening to anti-government protesters in Ukraine (get within some amount of distance to the protest site, the government texts your phone, and brands you a criminal on the spot).

But a thousand times worse.

RE: Worried yet? You should be.
By Nutzo on 2/7/2014 3:54:48 PM , Rating: 4

If this passes, I'm sure there will be a un-kill switch hack available within a couple days.

What is really needed is a lot simpler.
A nationwide "stolen" phone registry, where you can report your phone stolen.
All phone vendors should be required to check this list before they activate a phone.

That would make all these stolen phone almost worthless.

By retrospooty on 2/7/2014 5:35:13 PM , Rating: 2
Makes sense... Anyhow, lets not all get worked up about it. A state senator wanting to push a bill through does NOT mean the bill passes, it most likely just means that the company that is leading research on this and is most likely to make $$$ from is giving contributions to this senator. They will ahve to pay off a lot more to get it passed. LOL.

RE: Worried yet? You should be.
By Motoman on 2/8/2014 2:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
Yes and'd have to convince all Americans to save the serial number of their cell phones to report them when stolen. I predict the number of Americans who would bother to do such a thing to be just about zero.

RE: Worried yet? You should be.
By Etsp on 2/8/2014 5:49:22 PM , Rating: 2
The vast majority of the time the carrier that they are getting the new phone from should register the serial number, and the person whose phone was stolen should report the theft to the carrier. I don't see why the carrier couldn't do this relatively cheaply and easily.

RE: Worried yet? You should be.
By A11 on 2/7/2014 7:12:44 PM , Rating: 2
They don't need a kill switch to do that.

But that doesn't mean it's not a retarded idea. Who is going to pay if something goes wrong and possibly millions of phones are killed?

Not to mention in 2025 there'd be pretty much zero non kill able cell phones left in use. If they are all killed then what?

Idiot politician.

RE: Worried yet? You should be.
By ERROR666 on 2/9/2014 8:43:32 PM , Rating: 2
What free speech? What protests? Try to go out on the street and protest against the government today. You'll see what your free speech is worth.

RE: Worried yet? You should be.
By bitmover461 on 2/10/2014 12:49:35 PM , Rating: 2
Your post assumes that stifling free speech would be an *unintended* consequence. Among other alarming developments, last year our esteemed government legalized domestic propaganda, so I'd say there's nothing unintended about it.

RE: Worried yet? You should be.
By Zak on 2/10/2014 2:31:48 PM , Rating: 2
This is probably the real reason behind this legislation. Or the senator is really that dumb. Or both.

I can't help but wonder...
By SeaLurk on 2/7/2014 1:56:40 PM , Rating: 5
Is is possible to place a kill switch on senators?

RE: I can't help but wonder...
By Spookster on 2/7/2014 5:12:42 PM , Rating: 3
Yes. Division does it all the time just ask Percy.

Stay out government...
By SAN-Man on 2/7/2014 12:54:04 PM , Rating: 2
What legal authority do they have to regulate personal computers? There is no law and no precedent.

RE: Stay out government...
By coburn_c on 2/7/2014 2:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
Haha, California doesn't give a shit about legal authority. This week alone we've had them requiring gun makers to stamp the gun's serial number on the casing as it fires and fine convenience stores for the trash their customers create.

RE: Stay out government...
By Reclaimer77 on 2/8/2014 8:10:48 PM , Rating: 3
Didn't you know? They believe the Commerce Clause grants them unlimited unilateral authority to regulate basically everything even your personal health.

I blame carriers.
By MrRuckus on 2/7/2014 2:09:11 PM , Rating: 2
Who do the carriers not talk to one another, and mark phones stolen axe'd on ALL of them. If they did this, there would be no market for stolen/unpaid for phones. Currently, they dont talk to one another. A Phone stolen from AT&T will have an IMEI that is banned on ATT, yet will work on T Mobile just fine, or vice versa.

With the current market in place, its free reign. Until the carriers communicate and work with each other with a shared database of phones stolen, this will continue to be a problem. If the carriers wont do it for whatever reason (revenue from newly activated stolen/sold devices?), California's option is one way to MAKE them do it.

Free Speech? Give me a break. How would they target a group of people and kill switch all their phones. Sounds like fear mongering.

RE: I blame carriers.
By coburn_c on 2/7/14, Rating: 0
RE: I blame carriers.
By Jeffk464 on 2/7/2014 2:45:27 PM , Rating: 2
There is already a precedence for this anyways, the police on bay area transit shut down cell sites. The government can already mess with our phones in negative ways, this is a positive way.

I Would Suggest Instead...
By mmatis on 2/10/2014 8:20:44 AM , Rating: 3
that we place a kill switch on Senators, to be activated any time they violate their oath of office.

Not good enough
By amanojaku on 2/7/2014 12:47:40 PM , Rating: 2
Every smartphone should come with an armed guard, too.

/rolls eyes

By GabeS on 2/7/2014 1:31:11 PM , Rating: 2
Having a kill switch on your smartwares, computers, & tablets will also give police the same option. You pissed off mistress can also find your motel room

Worried yet? You should be.
By Danger3000 on 2/7/2014 1:42:59 PM , Rating: 2
If they implement a killswitch, they can interfere with protests (i.e. free speech), and it lends itself to misuse, hacking, etc. And if someone can hack the killswitch off, I'm sure they'll be able to turn it on again as well. Prepare to be held hostage over your own device from a hacker: "Pay me $100 and I'll reactivate your phone."
This is what happens when people unfamiliar with technology try to create laws for technology. Useless legislation, period.

Use the car model
By tayb on 2/7/2014 4:52:53 PM , Rating: 2
I think the best way to solve this would be something similar to the car model. Every phone already has a unique address so we just simply need to force the carriers to maintain an association between a phone and a customer and not allow that phone to be activated without being notified of a sale or relinquishment of that phone.

When I sell a car I have to notify my state and then transfer the title. If I lose my phone I report the car stolen.

Same thing with a phone. When I sell my phone I contact the carrier and let them know the phone has been stolen. They take it off the list. If I lose the phone or it is stolen I call them and let them know the status.

Problem solved. It doesn't cost much of anything to implement and doesn't add orwellian "kill switches" to our phones that will inevitably be hacked.

By jRaskell on 2/7/2014 5:03:21 PM , Rating: 2
In San Francisco alone, 2,400 cellphones were stolen last year, which represents a 23 percent increase from 2012.

Really? That's such a crime wave that the government has to step in?

How about a little perspective. Auto Thefts in San Francisco alone were nearly double that (5,381).


Ripe for abuse
By DT_Reader on 2/7/2014 1:42:05 PM , Rating: 1
Angry husbands can report their battered wive's phone "stolen" so they can't get help. I know of one bastard who canceled his ex-wife's phone because he could. Then, when she got another phone, he (as account holder) refused to let her transfer her old number to the new phone. This law will only aid jerks like that, and do nothing to recover stolen phones.

I predict that Mark Leno's phone will be one of the first reported "stolen" if this passes.

By ipay on 2/7/14, Rating: -1
RE: Great!
By JediJeb on 2/7/2014 2:46:57 PM , Rating: 3
Better yet just ban the ownership of iPhones in California and the crime will end since there will be none to steal. Makes just as much sense and will cost even less to implement. Anyone ignoring the ban deserves to have their phone stolen.

RE: Great!
By Solandri on 2/8/2014 2:02:16 PM , Rating: 2
I'm still trying to determine how he figures that this is a phone manufacturer conspiracy to prevent kill switches. Companies would love kill switches. A stolen phone is a recycled phone, so no net increase in sales. (If the theft succeeds, the victim has to buy a new phone. If the theft fails, the thief has to buy a new phone.) A killed phone is a new sale. (Both the victim and thief have to buy a new phone.)

If anything, companies want to sell phones with kill switches. They're afraid to implement it because they fear buyers will see it as a negative and buy a competitor's phone instead.

RE: Great!
By Jeffk464 on 2/7/2014 2:48:00 PM , Rating: 3
whew, thank god I'm say in that I have an android phone.

RE: Great!
By Jeffk464 on 2/7/2014 3:29:23 PM , Rating: 2
I'm safe

RE: Great!
By jwdR1 on 2/7/2014 3:09:25 PM , Rating: 2
This will work about as well as calling your bank after your wallet is stolen. By the time someone has called and killed the phone, the thief has already pawned it and you're dead in the street.

theft is the excuse to pass the law, not the reason.


RE: Great!
By inteli722 on 2/7/2014 3:11:30 PM , Rating: 2
Really bad troll...wait, you're serious? let me laugh even harder.

This is the dumbest idea ever and just serves to give the government more power over the people.

RE: Great!
By superflex on 2/7/2014 3:21:16 PM , Rating: 3
Please don't breed.
Your stupidity and ignorance is shocking.

RE: Great!
By Nfarce on 2/8/2014 12:24:38 PM , Rating: 1
^^That, folks is a classic example of the dumbing down of our younger generations these days. The dumb mAsses like this ignoranus have been indoctrinated/brainwashed through years of government/public education that capitalism and the free market are bad, and the imperial federal government is good.

The sad part about it however is that just like the Nazi youth, these gubment teet suckers don't see anything wrong here.

RE: Great!
By atechfan on 2/9/2014 5:27:37 AM , Rating: 1
You say this as if Socialism never led to any murders.

RE: Great!
By shuninxuo on 2/9/14, Rating: 0
RE: Great!
By JediJeb on 2/10/2014 5:55:48 PM , Rating: 2
If people could break away from looking at their phone long enough to put it away in their pocket(one that doesn't show the outline easily) then thieves would not even know they had one. But sadly today most can't even walk down the street unless they are actively using the phone, out in the open for the thieves to easily identify and steal.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson
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