California Governor Signs Bill Mandating ‘Kill Switches’ On Smartphones

Close up of a man using mobile smart phone

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (MCT) — California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed into law a first-in-the-nation requirement that smartphones made in the state eventually be equipped with “kill switches” that allow owners to remotely render them useless if stolen, in reaction to a spate of violent robberies.

“The governor signed SB 962 to deter smartphone theft,” said Jim Evans, a spokesman for the governor.

The measure applies to phones made after July 1, 2015, to allow the industry to adjust. It was supported by criminal justice leaders, including Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, who note that some phone owners have been injured in robberies. Democratic state Sen. Mark Leno introduced the measure.

“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” Leno said in a statement. “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.”

The legislation was opposed by some industry groups who argued phone companies were voluntarily taking steps to improve security of phones. But others said government action was needed.

“Once again, California is leading the way on important issues surrounding individual privacy and public safety,” said James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, noting smartphones contain a great deal of personal information.”

–Patrick McGreevy
Los Angeles Times


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