California Legislators Narrowly Defeat Smartphone ‘Kill Switch’ Bill

California Legislators Narrowly Defeat Smartphone ‘Kill Switch’ Bill

CNET reports California legislators have narrowly defeated a bill that would require all smartphone makers to preload and automatically enable a “kill switch” in their phones. The law was introduced by California State Senator Mark Leno, and backed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. 


CNET, via MacRumors:

Failing to reach a minimum of 21 votes in favor, the final tally was 19 yes’s to 17 no’s, with one senator not voting. Leno told CNET that he plans to take the bill up again next week. “The game is not yet over,” he said.

Gascon charged that the opposing forces of the bill were protecting the “billion dollar industry profits” of the wireless industry and their insurance partners. Critics of the plan said the ability to wipe and lock smartphones would be ineffectual as a theft deterrent, as thieves would simply sell the device for its parts.

Apple has already introduced its own anti-theft technology alongside iOS7. Its Activation Lock feature locks a user’s device to their iCloud account, and is automatically enable when Find My iPhone is turned on. If a bill such as Leno’s passed, the only change Apple would likely be required to make is to make Find My iPhone mandatory.

Both Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman expressed cautious optimism when Activation Lock was announced at Apple’s WWDC 2013.

A federal bill, the “Smartphone Theft Prevention Act,” has been introduced in Congress that would also mandate a “kill switch” in new smartphones sold in the U.S.