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CA Bill Requires Antitheft Technology in Smartphones

California State Senator Mark Leno is introducing a bill that would require all cellular phones sold in the state to include antitheft technology, reports The New York Times. This measure is being introduced as a way to curb smartphone thefts, which are on the rise in major metropolitan areas like San Francisco and New York City.
"With robberies of smartphones reaching an all-time high, California cannot continue to stand by when a solution to the problem is readily available," Senator Leno said in a statement. "Today we are officially stepping in and requiring the cellphone industry to take the necessary steps to curb violent smartphone thefts and protect the safety of the very consumers they rely upon to support their businesses."
Co-sponsored by San Francisco’s district attorney George Gascón, this kill switch requirement could go into effect as soon as January 1, 2015, if passed by the state legislature and signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown.

Apple likely won't be affected by the bill as it introduced its own antitheft technology with iOS 7's Activation Lock feature. This feature locks the device to the user's iCloud account and is automatically turned on when Find My iPhone is enabled. Thieves are prevented from turning off Find My iPhone, signing out of iCloud or wiping the device without supplying the original account credentials. This feature appears to meet the antitheft requirements of Leno's bill.
Any advanced mobile communications device that is sold in California on or after January 1, 2015, shall include a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in the possession of the rightful owner. A technological solution may consist of software, hardware, or a combination of both software and hardware, but shall be able to withstand a hard reset. No advanced mobile communications device may be sold in California without the technological solution enabled.
Gascón and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman expressed interested in Activation Lock when it was introduced at WWDC 2013. After reviewing the technology, Gascón and Schneiderman were impressed with the feature, praising Apple for taking "an important first step towards ending the global epidemic of smartphone theft."

Cellular industry trade group CTIA will likely oppose the bill and its terms that require a $2500 fine for every phone sold without antitheft technology. The group has argued against kill switches and offered a nationwide database of stolen phones as an alternative. Law enforcement officials, however, claim the US-based blacklist is ineffective as many stolen phones are sold overseas.

Top Rated Comments

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25 weeks ago
This is a perfect example of the government jumping in front of a parade and pretending to lead it. The FREE MARKET was taking care of this problem JUST FINE. Thank goodness they were there to waste all that money though. They must really care.
Rating: 21 Votes
25 weeks ago

The FREE MARKET was taking care of this problem JUST FINE. Thank goodness they were there to waste all that money though. They must really care.

No they werent.
Rating: 18 Votes
25 weeks ago
Heaven forbid people have personal responsibility.
Rating: 15 Votes
25 weeks ago

The logic here is that failure to install this technology is costing the State money, therefore the State has the authority to require it. It's the same logic that allows the government to set safety standards for cars.

And that is exactly how tyranny gets justified. That is how rights get trampled. That is how control is seized. They have to pay therefore it becomes their bushiness and they have a right to demand compliance.

Look how cigarettes have been beaten up because of the associated health costs. With this logic, what stops the government from doing whatever it wants? Tax or over regulate anything out of existence. Who in the world needs the rule of law when you wield that kind of power?
Rating: 10 Votes
25 weeks ago
Why address the underlying causes of crime when you can propose a politically expedient bill instead?...
Rating: 10 Votes
25 weeks ago
If I want I sell a phone that doesn't have anti theft tech. why can't I? What if I don't want to put the time and money in to that? I hope this does not become a law
Rating: 10 Votes
25 weeks ago

This is a perfect example of the government jumping in front of a parade and pretending to lead it. The FREE MARKET was taking care of this problem JUST FINE.

No, the free market was happy to sell people replacement phones.
Rating: 9 Votes
25 weeks ago


More laws that tell us whats best for us. :rolleyes:

So being robbed at gunpoint is about "personal responsibility"? republican much?
Rating: 6 Votes
25 weeks ago
I can give the benefit of the doubt to the folks who proposed this law, as being well-intentioned.

But I also can't help but think that there's some clear pandering going on here to the one smartphone vendor that is headquartered in that state, and who by the way, has this technology in place. It's very easy to require this sort of thing with little home state backlash, when your own constituents are already abiding by the proposed law.

Smartphones should have anti-theft technologies in them. Any little bit helps, or at least won't hurt. But one state doing their own thing and writing their own laws that are different from the 49 other states and the rest of the world, isn't the way to go about encouraging it.
Rating: 5 Votes
25 weeks ago
I don't think the proposed law goes far enough. I think they should make your phone ping the server every 15 minutes giving your exact location so just in case your phone is stolen or you lose it, a elite task force of specially trained cell phone detectives can come and find it. It would also be a great way for our government clandestine overloads to add a layer of protection for us.
Rating: 4 Votes

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