California Pushes for Smartphone Kill Switch

phone theftKill switches could be required on all smartphones sold in California by next year if State Sen. Mark Leno (D – San Francisco) has his way. Leno plans on introducing a bill requiring all new wireless phones to have a built-in capability that allows its functions to be remotely disabled. Hearings are expected to be held in the spring.

Smartphone theft is a real problem in the United States. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 30 to 40 percent of robberies in the U.S. involve a mobile device. In the Bay Area, smartphones account for over 50 percent of robberies.

Plenty of supporters are throwing their weight behind the bill, suggesting it would reduce crime by rendering a stolen phone useless. However, industry opponents say safety features are already in place and further changes may increase cost.

It’s not the first time California lawmakers have taken on the smartphone industry. Last March, the San Francisco District Attorney began pushing for solutions to growing issue, even meeting with Apple reps to discuss possible solutions.

Last year Washington, D.C. police Chief Cathy Lanier demanded federal regulations be put in place to force carriers to participate in database systems to protect consumers and that phone sellers be eliminated.