California Rejects 'Kill Switch' Requirement Legislation for Smartphones

California legislators narrowly rejected a bill that would require smartphone manufacturers like Apple to preload and automatically enable antitheft "kill switch" in their phones, according to CNET. The law was backed by California State Senator Mark Leno and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon.

Failing to reach a minimum of 21 votes in favor, the final tally was 19 yes's to 17 no's, with one senator not voting. Leno told CNET that he plans to take the bill up again next week. "The game is not yet over," he said.

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Gascon accused opposition of the bill of protecting the interest of the "billion dollar industry profits" of the wireless industry and their insurance partners. Though some critics of the plan note that wiping software and locking phones would be ineffectual as thieves are likely to sell the device's hardware components.

The law was unlikely to affect Apple much, as the company introduced its own antitheft technology with iOS 7's Activation Lock feature, which locks a device to a user's iCloud account and is automatically turned on when Find My iPhone is enabled. However, Apple would likely have to make Find My iPhone mandatory to meet the requirements of Leno's bill.

Activation Lock won cautious optimism from both Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman when it was announced at 2013's WWDC.

The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, a federal bill that would also mandate the inclusion of a "kill switch" in smartphones, has been introduced at the national level.

Top Rated Comments

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85 months ago
NOOOOOOOOO NOW WHAT WILL I DO TO MAKE SURE MY PHONE DOESNT GET STOLENNNNNN??????

Oh, wait. Activation Lock was already in iOS 7? So innovation occurs without the involvement of government bureaucrats??? Who knew?:rolleyes:
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
85 months ago
A law so stupid not even the California legislature would pass it.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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85 months ago
If their customers want it, companies will do it on their own without being forced to. And if company doesn't implement it, then customers are free to leave for the competition.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
85 months ago

Though some critics of the plan note that wiping software and locking phones would be ineffectual as thieves are likely to sell the device's hardware components.

What use is hardware if it can't be used beyond a movie prop? At least in San Francisco, the market is for quickly flipping a device and selling it for a few bucks. From now on, anyone involved in the iPhone black market is a sucker if they purchase an iPhone without checking its functionality. Now if they want to make money, they have to take it to someone who knows what to do with camera modules, flash chips, etc.?

Am I missing something, or doesn't this still seriously deflate the incentive to steal an iPhone? Even if not 100% of users enable it, I feel like it would be a "poison pill" type deal where it seriously complicates a thieve's job.

1) Fewer thefts will be profitable 2) Transactions will take longer and involve greater contact between buyers/sellers 3) The market shifts from selling whole phones to components 4) Overall risk/reward ratio goes way down.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
85 months ago
A little uneasy with the kill switch concept

I don't know if I want a 'Kill Switch' available in the phones. I am not normally paranoid, but it seems like something governments would use against their people. I imagine that the Arab Spring a few years ago, which relied heavily on phones to tweet, Facebook, and text each other, might have had different results if their oppressive leaders could convince the phone companies to "kill" the phones of suspected protestors.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
85 months ago

If their customers want it, companies will do it on their own without being forced to. And if company doesn't implement it, then customers are free to leave for the competition.

Indeed. Pressure from customers as well as the PR effects of public shaming from various individuals and police forces would have led to this type of feature without government intervention making said intervention a redundant waste of money. Meanwhile governments sit by silently on issues where they actually could make a difference, such as net neutrality. People need to learn the proper place for government intervention.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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