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Smartphone "Kill Switch" bill passes second senate vote in California

Posted: , by Alan F.

Late last month, the California State Senate voted 19 to 17 to shoot down a bill that would have forced manufacturers to equip any smartphone to be sold in California, with a "Kill Switch" that could remotely shut down a stolen or lost smartphone. That would make the device useless to anyone who stole the device for their own use, or to sell in the black market in the U.S. or overseas.

After getting shot down, changes were made to the bill. SB962 was revised to allow manufacturers 6 months to figure out how they will add the "Kill Switch" to their handsets. The revised language of the bill now requires all smartphones sold in California after July 1st, 2015, to have the "Kill Switch". And tablets would not have to comply. With those changes made, companies like Apple and Microsoft did a 180 degree change and now support the bill. Critics in the Senate also changed their vote from "no" to "go" and the revised bill passed 26 to 8 with all Democrats voting in favor of it.

Not all companies in the smartphone industry changed their opinion on the bill. Some, like Samsung, Verizon, AT&T and others, said that SB962 will block innovation in the industry. But talk like that is nothing new for San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, a sponsor of the bill. Gascon has blamed the smartphone manufacturers and the carriers for previously blocking a "Kill Switch" bill. It is estimated that replacing lost and stolen smartphones is a $300 billion business in the states. It is also estimated that the four top carriers in the U.S. take in $8 billion a year selling premium insurance policies that cover the theft and loss of smartphones. The D.A. has long said that the industry fears losing these replacement revenues, which explains its resistance to adding a "Kill Switch"
"Any smartphone sold in California that's manufactured after July 1, 2015, must have technology that can render the device inoperable if it's lost or stolen.

The technology must be able to withstand a hard reset and prevent reactivation of the device on a wireless network except by the rightful owner or his or her designee.

Consumers who don't want a kill switch on their smartphones will be able to opt out and deactivate the technology.

Retailers who distribute smartphones without the required technology will be subject to a civil penalty up to $2,500 for every phone sold that fails to comply."-Highlights from SB 962

The bill now will be voted on by the California State Assembly, which will probably revise it some more. There is talk of adding some laws to prevent a cellphone belonging to a domestic abuse victim, from getting remotely locked by his or her abuser.
source: SanJoseMercuryNews via Engadget

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posted on 09 May 2014, 01:16 3

1. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3806; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)

And so the "War on Phone Theft" begins. I'm sure with the same great results as the "War on Drugs" and the "War on Terror".

posted on 09 May 2014, 01:30 1

2. Peeyushmalik96 (Posts: 75; Member since: 08 Jun 2013)

And can someone explain me how such a bill would be a hindrance to innovation???
Also why aren't the tablets covered?

posted on 09 May 2014, 01:40 5

3. 0xFFFF (Posts: 3806; Member since: 16 Apr 2014)

Because carriers will have to spend a lot of money on this nanny state nonsense, money that could be spent elsewhere, i.e. on "innovation". It's not really the truth, but it's as much as they can say.

Tablets aren't covered because most of them are wifi and adding all this nanny state nonsense to wifi tablets would be too obviously related to the Federal government and NSA who want remote kill/control over every single device sold in the USA. They'd need the ability to punch through firewalls and/or have the tablets phone home to renew activation codes, that sort of stuff. Basically government monitoring worse than anything in history.

posted on 09 May 2014, 02:13

4. Furbal (unregistered)

Money spent on making sure they are in compliance, having the proper documents, setting up replacements for devices that fail or are killed on accident instead of building out more coverage or upgrading current towers.

posted on 09 May 2014, 02:36 1

5. androiphone20 (Posts: 1654; Member since: 10 Jul 2013)

We all need this, then we won't have to be Find my iphone vigilantes

posted on 09 May 2014, 05:12 2

7. CoastCity (Posts: 257; Member since: 07 Mar 2014)

Yeeees, we all need our phone, with which we are prompted to pay and be paid, to have a governmental killing switch. How much naive are people today

posted on 09 May 2014, 02:37 6

6. HtcEddie1ne (Posts: 1; Member since: 09 May 2014)

I wonder who will have control of said kill switch,is this another piece of legislation aimed at more control of the people.For example if your considered a extremist or believe in the constitution in the not so distant future will they just shut your phone down thus cutting off one of your forms of communication,I for one dont like this bill and I hope it does not become law too much power for government to have.

posted on 09 May 2014, 06:25

8. N-fanboy (Posts: 543; Member since: 12 Jan 2013)

hackers gonna love this

posted on 09 May 2014, 10:25

9. B_Newsome (Posts: 6; Member since: 09 May 2014)

Anyone else worried on how this can be used by the government to mass brick phones. They already pay the big carriers money to deliver data on us. I have a big feeling this will come back and hurt us all, and all i mean us citizens.

posted on 09 May 2014, 10:53

11. Augustine (Posts: 1043; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)

Their concern is that we the people use phones to organize ourselves in mass protests against the government like in Oakland and Albuquerque. If only they had a remote kill switch then...

posted on 09 May 2014, 10:51

10. Augustine (Posts: 1043; Member since: 28 Sep 2013)

"Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." (Groucho Marx)

posted on 10 May 2014, 13:37 1

12. rfrapp (Posts: 77; Member since: 10 Jun 2010)

California is a state full of idiots.

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