California Senator Proposes Bill To Make Kill Switches Mandatory In Smartphones

by Tracy Lewis on February 07, 2014

Smartphone theft is an ongoing concern among users because the resale value of the devices are very high. In order to combat the problem, a Democratic Senator from California has proposed a bill to make the installation of kill switches in cell phones mandatory. The kill switch would enable a lost or stolen phone to be completely deactivated. The goal of the kill switch is not only the fact that the smartphone can be shut down remotely, it is also that just the option being installed would deter theft from even occurring because no one wants a smartphone that doesn't work.

The new bill proposed would require all smartphones sold after January 1, 2015 to include the kill switch technology. If not, the manufacturer would face stiff fines. Currently all of the major wireless carriers, Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, are not in favor of this idea. Last year, Samsung introduced Absolute LoJack anti-theft technology on some of their devices, but it was rejected by carriers because of the belief that it gives hackers an easier way into the phone's private information.

One of the concerns is that once the kill switch is activated there is no way to "undo" it. The smartphone is of no use, not even if recovered by the original owner. The extreme popularity of Apple products has put the iPhone at the top of the list of most stolen products. Apple has taken it upon themselves to install a software piece called Find My iPhone. This software allows you to see where your phone is and where it has been, you can lock the device, and even send the phone a message with a contact. Google has also introduced and app called Android Device Manager that has many of the same features as Find My iPhone, it also has an option to wipe the memory of the smartphone to prohibit thieves from accessing your personal information. There are also many 3rd party options available.

If this bill passes in California  OEM's will be required to put the technology in the phones, which gives the possibility that other states will follow suit.  Hopefully during this process, they will figure out a way to keep the hackers out.