Smartphone kill-switch bill passes California assembly

The bill is intended to reduce smartphone theft in the state

A bill requiring that all smartphones sold in California contain a "kill-switch" that allows users to disable them if stolen was approved by the California Assembly on Thursday morning.

The bill had previously been approved by the state's senate although it will have to return for a vote on amendments made by the assembly. If those are approved, it will pass into law once signed by Governor Jerry Brown.

The California bill mandates that all smartphones contain software that will allow the user to remotely wipe the phone of personal data and lock it so it cannot be used unless an unlocking code is entered. The software will need to be resistant to attempts to replace the phone's operating system, be enabled by default but with the possibility of being disabled by consumers, and be on all phones manufactured after July 1, 2015, and sold in the state.

One of the amendments made to the bill in the assembly allows for phones that were introduced prior to 2015 "that cannot reasonably be reengineered" to continue to be sold past July 1, 2015.

Proponents of the bill say that it will reduce smartphone theft because thieves are much less likely to steal phones if the handsets quickly become unusable.

"We are on the verge of implementing regulations that will have tremendous benefits to public safety," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who has been one of the leading forces behind the bill. "We are on the eve of securing wireless consumers everywhere from the violent threat of theft."

The California bill would be the second state law in the country mandating a kill switch. The first was passed in Minnesota in May. There are also two bills in the U.S. Congress that are similarly seeking a mandated kill switch.

The wireless industry had initially objected to the law saying it would make smartphones more vulnerable to hackers, but earlier this year reversed its stance and began supporting the kill switch.

To date, only Apple has implemented a kill switch in its phones but Google and Microsoft have both committed to adding one to upcoming updates to their respective smartphone operating systems.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags MicrosoftsmartphonesGoogleApplelegalconsumer electronicsCriminal

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Mobile

Victorinox Werks Professional Executive 17 Laptop Case

Learn more >

Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >

Exec

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?