The California Senate approved a bill today that says phones sold in the state need to come preloaded with a “technological solution” to prevent theft. The “solution” could either be software, hardware, or both.
State Sen. Mark Leno’s bill, SB 962, would ensure that phones sold include a “kill switch,” which would make the phone inoperable if it’s stolen.
The same bill was shot down by the senate in April. Since then, however, both Microsoft and Apple have dropped their opposition to the bill, which might be why the bill passed today, according to the Examiner.
“I applaud Apple and Microsoft for breaking rank and dropping their opposition to SB 962, ignoring the false claim that this technology is unworkable,” Leno said in a statement.
The bill next has to go to the California Assembly, and then has to be approved by Gov. Jerry Brown.
According to Consumer Reports, 1.6 million Americans were victimized for their phones in 2012. In 2013, that number rose to 3.1 million.
A kill switch would be a strong deterrent to theft and violence. And, according to research done by a Creighton University statistics professor, it might even save people money: US consumers spend around $US580 million replacing stolen phones each year; those consumers pay around $US4.8 billion for insurance on those handsets.
And according to a report from Lookout Security, people are willing to shell out a ton of cash and potentially put themselves in danger to retrieve their stolen smartphones.
Theft has increased by 26% in Los Angeles since 2011. Smartphone robberies were also up 23% in San Fransisco in 2013, according to Consumer Reports.
“I commend the Senate for standing up to the wireless industry and taking this critical step to protect wireless consumers everywhere,” San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who backs the bill, said in a statement. “We’re one step closer to ending the violence and victimization that far too many people have been subjected to. California truly has an opportunity to lead the way and end this public safety crisis, the potential to end this global epidemic is very real.”
The debate centered around who shoulders the blame if a phone is sold without the technology. According to the bill, the fine ranges between $US500 and $US2,500. As it’s written now, the blame would fall on the retailers who are selling the devices.
Last month, the CTIA, an organisation that represents phone manufacturers, said it is commit ed to voluntarily making antitheft protection a standard in mobile devices. The CTIA’s vice president, Jamie Hastings, called SB 962 “unnecessary.”
“Given the breadth of action the industry has voluntarily taken, it was unnecessary for the California Senate to approve SB 962, which would mandate a specific form of anti-theft functionality,” Hastings said in a statement.
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