Four United States Senators have introduced The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, a federal bill that would mandate the inclusion of a “kill switch” in all smartphones sold across the country.
The bill would require smartphones to be equipped with both a kill switch to make a lost or stolen device inoperable and a system allowing consumers to remotely wipe their personal data.
The bill – introduced by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Blumenthal, and Mazie Hirono – is also supported by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, both who have been vocal proponents for the inclusion of a kill switch in smartphones to act as a theft deterrent.
Apple’s “Activation Lock” – introduced as part of iOS 7 – should satisfy the requirements of the bill. Activation Lock disables a stolent smartphone by requiring an Apple ID and password to be entered before it is wiped and reactivated. iOS 7’s Find My iPhone feature also allows owners to remotely wipe and lock their device.
Cellular industry group CTIA has been quick to speak out against the legislation, saying a better move would be to criminalize tampering with mobile device identifiers.
The group has long opposed kill switches, preferring instead to support a national database of stolen phones. However, that database, created in cooperation with the big four wireless carrier in the U.S., has proven ineffectual as a deterrent.