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.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard
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