California plans to mandate kill switch anti-theft measure

February 7, 2014
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While the proposed kill switch feature has practically failed to be widely implemented, the state of California might be making a rather bold move that would, in effect, make it mandatory. If approved, the proposed law will require phone makers to include a software kill switch in any smartphone sold within the state starting January 1, 2015 or be fined $2,500 for each device sold.

If you haven't been keeping up with the series of anti-theft measures being brought up across the country, the kill switch is a software feature that will let authorities remotely render a device useless in case of theft. This sounds pretty much like the Android Device Manager and other recent services, except there is no going back, at least not in the current form of the feature. This type of measure got the hot seat last year when it was revealed that the major US carriers blocked attempts of manufacturers to implement such a feature.

The push against the kill switch came primarily from the CTIA, the association made up of many of the players in the wireless industry. They voiced concerns about the safety of such a feature, especially in case a hacker gets hold of the power to remotely kill any smartphone. There is also the matter of not being able to reactivate a killed smartphone in case of retrieval, though that is probably simply an implementation issue. The CTIA proposed, and almost finished, a different solution, a database of stolen smartphones that would make selling them more difficult. Unfortunately, that too has limitations, which is practically within the confines of the US territory.

The bill to be proposed in California, expected to be introduced by Democrat State Senator Mark Leno, is somewhat ingenious. While it does limit the scope of the law to devices sold in the state, it will practically force smartphone makers to put the feature inside all their devices. It will be rather impractical for them, as well as carriers, to maintain a separate version solely for a single US state. Expect, however, that the CTIA will not sit this one down and will pull all stops, not to mention strings, to block this move.

SOURCE: New York Times


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  • me

    There is a really simple solution to this issue…smartphone manufacturers don’t sell your products in California. Remember the people who try to make these laws are supposed to be representing the people and the peoples wishes, not their own agenda.

    • Patrick Smithopolis

      Exactly, what I was thinking. Californians will have to find another means of getting a smartphone.