California has just become the first state to require an enabled kill switch in all phones (not tablets) sold starting July 1st, 2015. Minnesota has already passed a version of the bill, but one that does not enable the feature by default – something the California supporters were adamant about. Importantly also, as we know, most users don’t mess with the defaults of their tech too much.
The Californian bill states that every phone sold must have some reversible way – through software, hardware, or combination – to lock the “essential features” of the smartphone. It will still be able to use 911 and participate in emergency alert systems. You can read the full text of the bill here.
Google and Apple have already offered some form of theft-protection. Google’s even lets you track the phone and erase your data – something this bill doesn’t require. Microsoft has been planning their own solution, which you can read about here.
State Sen. Mark Leno says, through this bill, that “California has just put smartphone thieves on notice.” Good, because according to the bill smartphone thefts account for 30 – 40% of robberies in major cities and that 1.6 million Americans had their smartphone stolen in 2012.
This will hopefully radically reduce smartphone thefts. A device that costs up to $600 and fits in your pocket is very attractive for thieves. The kill-switch, which would take away the incentive to steal a smartphone seems like the only way to stop theft.