News

California to require ‘kill switches’ on smartphones

California to require ‘kill switches’ on smartphones

KILL SWITCH ENGAGE: State Sen. Anthony Canella, R-Ceres, uses his smart phone at the Capitol Monday, Aug. 11, in Sacramento, Calif. Cannella joined fellow lawmakers in approving a measure, SB962 by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, requiring all new smart phones come equipped with a "kill switch," that disables the device if lost or stolen. Photo: Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli

By Joaquin Palomino

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Smartphones in California will be required to come with a “kill switch” to render them useless if lost or stolen under a bill signed Monday by Governor Jerry Brown, the latest effort to stem an epidemic of phone theft in the most populous U.S. state.

The bill would be the strongest attempt yet by a U.S. state to fight smartphone theft, which accounts for more than half of crimes in several of the state’s large cities.

“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,” said Democratic state Senator Mark Leno, the bill’s author.

Under the new law all smartphones sold in the state after July 2015 will come pre-equipped with technology allowing them to be shut down remotely in the event of theft.

The bill received wide support from California prosecutors and law enforcement agencies that hoped it could help reduce smartphone thefts.

According to the National Consumers League, handheld devices were stolen from 1.6 million Americans in 2012. In California, smartphone theft accounts for more than half of all crimes in San Francisco, Oakland and other cities.

Other states experiencing a rash of smart phone thefts have considered similar measures, and Minnesota passed a theft-prevention law in May. California’s new law, though, will go further, requiring manufacturers to notify consumers that the technology is available on their phones, hopefully prompting consumers to enable the kill switch.

The wireless industry removed its opposition to the bill after Leno agreed to postpone its effective date until July of 2015, the senator said.

(Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Eric Walsh)

Recent Headlines

5 hours ago in National

‘Flags in’ for Memorial Day weekend

flags16146721748085

The tradition marks the beginning of Memorial Day weekend activities around the nation.

8 hours ago in National

Trump wins the Republican nomination for president

trumpAP

Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has reached the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president.

10 hours ago in National

TSA chief: Help is on the way to address long airport lines

15-overlay-14

The head of the Transportation Security Administration said the beleaguered agency will add 768 new screeners by mid-June to deal with increasingly long airport security lines that have caused passengers to miss flights even before the busy summer travel season.

11 hours ago in Lifestyle

Public pools are gross, but you’ll go swimming anyway

16-overlay-10

A new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says almost 80 percent of public pools fail routine health inspections.

11 hours ago in National

Hundreds protest for $15 minimum wage at McDonald’s headquarters

19-overlay-8

Hundreds of protesters marched through pouring rain to call for higher wages and union rights at McDonald's Corp on Wednesday, leading the hamburger chain to shut down its headquarters a day before its annual meeting.