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Smartphone 'kill switch' bill proposed by California lawmakers

California lawmakers on Friday outlined a proposal that would require lost or stolen smartphones to have a 'kill switch.'
February 7, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
California lawmakers are proposing a new bill that would require lost or stolen smartphones to have a "kill switch" that would render them inoperable.

Any mobile devices sold in or shipped to California would have to have built-in anti-theft devices. State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who plans to introduce the legislation this spring, believes this would deter thieves and be the first of its kind bill in the U.S.

"With robberies of smartphones reaching an all-time high, California cannot continue to stand by when a solution to the problem is readily available," Leno said in a statement.

Leno and other officials outlined the proposal at a news conference on Friday.

The wireless industry opposes the bill, saying many carriers are offering other types of anti-theft services. Opponents also say the kill switch is not the answer because it could allow hackers to disable phones belonging to individuals and law enforcement agencies.

"Our members are continuing to explore and offer new technologies to address these crimes while not inadvertently creating a 'trap door' that hacker and cybercriminals could exploit," The Wireless Association said in a statement.

Last year, Samsung Electronics proposed installing a kill switch in its devices, but the company said the biggest U.S. carriers rejected the idea.

According to the Federal Communications Commission, the theft of smartphones and iPads account for nearly one-third of robberies in the U.S.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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