New California Law Mandates Smartphone Kill Switch

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Stolen smartphone? It won’t be as big a concern if you live in California. A new law in the Golden State will soon require kill switches on new smartphones.

The anti-theft feature allows users to remotely deactivate their phone, turning it into useless junk. California’s phone law, the first of its kind in the nation, requires that phones sold after July 1, 2015, have default kill switches.

According to the San Jose Mercury News:

Such technology exists, but phone owners must choose it; the new law requires it to be standard on all phones, and owners can opt out if they wish.

“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” state Sen. Mark Leno, the bill’s co-author, said Monday. “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.”

Time said phone thefts are rampant in California. In Oakland, 3 out of 4 robberies and burglaries involve stolen phones. In San Francisco, more than 65 percent are phone-related.

The Mercury News said that nationwide, the number of smartphone-theft victims rocketed from 1.6 million to 3.1 million from 2012 to 2013.

Earlier this year, we told you that the wireless industry voluntarily committed to including a kill switch on most smartphones after July 1, 2015. But rather than making the anti-theft software a default feature on phones, the wireless industry said the kill switch would simply be available on phones, requiring people to opt in to use it.

According to Time, wireless association CTIA’s vice president, Jamie Hastings, said in a statement that California’s new law is “unnecessary given the breadth of action the industry has taken.” Hastings also said:

Uniformity in the wireless industry created tremendous benefits for wireless consumers, including lower costs and phenomenal innovation. State-by-state technology mandates, such as this one, stifle those benefits and are detrimental to wireless consumers.

What do you think of California’s new law? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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  • grandmaguest

    I would like to see it nationwide…..and now…not a year from now. I don’t know if you can ask for it from your provider now, but I will definitely be asking and keeping my fingers crossed that it will be available.
    On top of cutting down on the stolen phones (and the people who have been mugged for theirs) it will also prevent the thieves from accessing all your personal information. Wonderful idea…..come on cell phone providers…what are you waiting for?? You already make a fortune with your (overpriced) service.

    • Don Lowery

      As with many things…I remember reading this has been available outside the US for a while. The reason it has taken so long to get here is that the carriers have been making a killing selling you a new phone when yours gets stolen. The used black market in the third world which has been using stolen US phones should evaporate as soon as the providers are forced to accept this.