Smartphone Kill Switch

Minnesota Locks Down Smartphone Legislation

May 15, 2014 - Written By Phil Bourget

Minnesota today set a landmark for legislation with the passing of the United States’ first smartphone antitheft acts.  Minnesota governor Mark Dayton signed into law the bill titled “Smart Phone Antitheft Protection”, with the bill label ‘SF 1740’.  This law calls for and requires a ‘kill switch’ program to be already on or freely accessible to any smartphone that is sold or bought in the state of Minnesota on or after July 1, 2015.

This legislation is nothing new to Americans, with the CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) having agreed on a similar requirement with all the nation’s largest service providers (Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile) in the past year.  The idea behind both the CTIA and the Minnesota law is protection of the consumer/owner’s device(s) and the money they put into purchasing said device.  The Office of the Governor of Minnesota’s official blog cites the FCC (Federal Communications Committee) in that almost a third of robberies in the United States is of or for a mobile phone and that these thefts ultimately totaled a loss of upwards of $30 billion last year.

This new Minnesota law specifies the precautions and security measures that will become active at the start of July 2015.  Some such measures to-be-taken are recording the device and all of its details and specifications, the date, time, place, vendor and their information (address and name), vendor’s driver’s license number (or similar identification), and a signed statement from the vendor essentially saying ‘This device is not stolen’.  These records must also be kept for three years.  Also, interestingly, it bans used-device vendors from buying devices from anyone under 18 years old.

Along with these records to be kept and their longevity, the law criminalizes, after July 1, 2015, the noncompliance with them, with obvious ‘special case exceptions’ noted in the law itself.  Samsung offered their cooperation and installation of a ‘kill switch’ technology on their devices last year, but the idea was disregarded because of its ‘supposedly likely’ detraction from service providers’ insurance of and for lost or stolen cell phones.  Many states have been looking into such legislation for a while, and Minnesota will definitely not be the last state to enact further and more specific guidelines for the safe-keeping and securing of our mobile devices.