Last month (April), a bill which would force all the smartphone manufacturers to install a "kill-switch" on every device in an attempt to cut down on phone thefts, was rejected by the California legislators since it didn't get the required number of votes. It needed 21 votes to become a law but managed to get only 19-17 in favor. The idea behind this was to save U.S. consumers billions by drying up the stolen devices market, and reduce spending in hardware replacement and insurance.
"This technology exists, and until it is pre-enabled on every new phone purchased, consumers will continue to be the innocent victims of thieves who bank on the fact that these devices can be resold at a profit on the black market." said California State Sen. Mark Leno.
This controversial bill, however was altered and was made more acceptable to manufacturers and networks. It was presented again and this time The California Senate approved it on Thursday.
"If this proposal becomes law in California, it will likely command discussion in any other states with large, urban populations where cellphone theft has become an issue," said Ross Rubin, a principal analyst for Reticle Research. "And now, it seems like there's acceptance of this concept in some quarters of the wireless industry where there wasn't before."
"By listening to the concerns of our opponents, we had a big success today," said Leno, the bill's sponsor. "Given the size of the California market, it wouldn't take much for another state like New York to follow our lead and for manufacturers everywhere to comply with these necessary requirements."
Apparently, Microsoft and Apple played a huge role in backing up this bill and getting it to pass. "Both companies felt the new version was more flexible and “something they could work with.” Senator Jim Beall told the newspaper (San Jose Mercury News).
Don't worry (or get excited) with the name though, it won't actually self-destruct or anything. It's just a software-based anti-theft system and would have the ability to operate without the owner actually pressing a button to activate it. It'll disable the device in a way which would render it useless in case of a theft.