California Could Require Mobile Devices To Have "Kill Switches"


Alice Truong

February 7, 2014

California legislators are expected to outline a proposal requiring mobile devices sold in the state to come equipped with “kill switches” that would disable them if stolen or lost, beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

State Sen. Mark Leno, a Democrat in San Francisco, has garnered the support of San Francisco district attorney George Gascon, who said more than half of the robberies in the city involve mobile devices. “The wireless industry must take action to end the victimization of its customers,” Gascon said in a statement.

If the legislation is passed, it would make California the first state to require manufacturers to create a way to render smartphones and tablets inoperable. In December, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman sent letters to the CEOs of five major wireless carriers asking why they had not supported the idea of loading a kill-switch option on mobile devices. The CTIA, a trade group for the wireless industry, has said that a kill switch could make devices vulnerable to hackers who could use it to lock users out of their phones.

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