California Governor signs law mandating 'kill switch' on all smartphones sold in state

California's Governor signed a unique bill earlier this week that requires all future smartphones sold in the state to have a default feature nicknamed "kill switch".

Jerry Brown mandated Monday that every smartphone sold in California after 1 July 2015 be outfitted with a feature that would make the device useless if stolen. The historic legislation is meant to prevent smartphone theft in the state. Many California cities have reported that the majority of robberies are smartphone thefts. San Francisco and Oakland, for instance, claimed 65 per cent and 75 per cent of robberies, respectively, involved smartphones.

The bill, called SB 962, which does not specify how manufacturers should develop a kill switch, will apply to all smartphones whether sold online or in physical stores. It also mandates that smartphone owners must have the opportunity to turn their smartphones back on (in case their phone is returned) and remotely erase data. Democrat Mark Leno, a state senator in California, proposed the legislation, which many law enforcement officials have since endorsed.

“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” said Leno in a published statement. “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 fueling street crime and violence within our communities.”

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Apple, Google, and Samsung are just a few of the technology companies that have already agreed to add a kill switch-like feature to their smartphones, though they did not enable it by default. California's new legislation however will require theft-deterrent technology to come standard on all smartphones sold in California. Leno described the change as a "departure from the status quo, where consumers are required to seek out and enable the technology."

It's worth noting George Gascón, the district attorney in San Francisco, asserted that carriers have been reluctant to implement kill switches in the past, mostly because of the negative affect that kill switches ;would presumably;have on the $7 billion smartphone-insurance market.



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