By the middle of 2015 all cell phones sold inside the state of California must come with a built in “kill switch.” The state says the move is to deter would-be thieves. The bill was signed into law on Monday, August 25 by Governor Jerry Brown. Though the majority of Apple’s iPhones and certain Samsung smartphones already come with the “killswitch,” soon no brand will be safe.
The “killswitch” currently embedded in iPhones and other smart phones allows owners to remotely shut the phone down in the event that it become lost or stolen. According to a report published by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the “killswitch” in iPhones has already lead to a decrease in smartphone theft in New York, London, and San Francisco this year. California is now the second state after Minnesota that has a law regarding “kill switches.” Bill author Senator Mark Leno elaborated,
“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice.”
The law requires that the original phone owner have the capability to kill the phone at any given time. Minnesota went a step even further and requires that owners be prompted to turn on the feature during the initial setup phase. The hope is that thieves will find stealing smart phones a lot more trouble than they’re worth. If retailers decline to include the “killswitch” in the phone the law dictates that they will be subjected to fines ranging from $500 to $2,500. The fines will go into effect on July 1, 2015, but secondary market phones that are too old to adapt the technology will be exempt from the law.
Still, there are those who are against California’s newest cell phone law. Electronic Frontier Foundation believes the law will allow law enforcement to use the “killswitch” for its own gains. The company also argues that the law will stifle competition by making business more difficult for third-party software makers. In the end, only time will tell how the law plays out.
Featured image via flickr/Shinichi Higashi
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