The latest on the cell phone Kill Switch bill out of California shows that the bill is nearing its completion in becoming a full fledged law. The bill seeks to require manufacturers to place a kill switch inside of future smartphones that could allow the devices to be shut off completely prohibiting further use, an initiative brought to the table by California State Senator Mark Leno in an attempt to quell the desire for smartphone theft which has been steadily rising over the last year or two. There are currently various ways to in some way, shape, or form shut off certain features of the phone thus preventing any use of them going forward, but they aren’t actual kill switches built directly into the phone, rather they’re applications or a particular service provided by carriers that shuts down the IMEI or ESN, which keeps thieves from using stolen phones as their own on any given network.
All that does though is keep the phone from working effectively for cell network related functions, however it doesn’t stop the phone from working completely, as they could still be used on WiFi connections to access data features and such, and there is a handful of other features and functions that a person could operate on the phone that don’t require data. The proposed law would have OEMs put out devices that house the kill switch which if used, would render the device completely useless, although the law would also allow individuals to choose to opt out of such services if they wish, or at least that’s the idea behind what Leno and George Gascon who is San Francisco’s DA had in mind.
In the past when the reports about this bill first came to light, there were already some major manufacturers that had agreed to be on board with the bill and support it in becoming a law, as well as major US carriers. Nothing seems to be as big of a priority for Leno at the moment as this particular bill, and it seems understandable given that it hits somewhat close to home since California, more specifically San Francisco and Oakland, harbor a large portion of smartphone related thefts with more than 65% and 75% of robberies in those areas being smartphone related in 2013 alone. Leno states that “Our goal is to swiftly take the wind out of the sails of thieves who have made the theft of smartphones one of the most prevalent street crimes in California’s biggest cities.” The bill had just passed today after a 27 t0 8 vote, and is now on its way to the governor. Not everyone is for this bill passing however, as Jamie Hastings, who is Vice President of the external and state affairs for the CTIA is against the governor signing the bill and stated that “We urge the Governor to not sign this bill, since uniformity in the wireless industry created tremendous benefits for wireless consumers, including lower costs and phenomenal innovation,State by state technology mandates, such as this one, stifle those benefits and are detrimental to wireless consumers.” Whether you’re for or against it yourselves, it seems very likely that by sometime after July of next year, we could all be looking at buying smartphones that house the kill switch. How do you feel about it?