Governor Signs Bill Requiring All Smartphones Sold in California to Have Built-In Kill Switch

Governor Signs Bill Requiring All Smartphones Sold in California to Have Built-In Kill Switch

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Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation today that requires all smartphones sold in California to come pre-equipped with theft-deterring technological solutions to render the devices useless if stolen. SB 962 was authored by Senator Mark Leno and sponsored by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón. The bill is the first of its kind in the nation prompting every consumer to enable a kill switch as the default setting during the initial setup of a new smartphone.

“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Starting next year, all smartphones sold in California, and most likely every other state in the union, will come equipped with theft deterrent technology when they purchase new phones. Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities.”

According to Consumer Reports, the number of victims of smartphone theft in the U.S. nearly doubled from 1.6 million to 3.1 million between 2012 and 2013, a 94 percent increase in a single year. The epidemic of smartphone thefts is most prevalent in California’s largest cities. In San Francisco, 67 percent of all robberies involve the theft of a mobile communications device, and in Oakland that number is as high as 75 percent. Los Angeles has seen a 30 percent increase in smartphone theft since 2011, while San Diego has experienced a 34 percent increase. In Sacramento, 22 percent of all robberies involve the theft of a smartphone.

“This epidemic has impacted millions across the nation and millions more around the globe, but today we turn the page,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “Seldom can a public safety crisis be addressed by a technological solution, but today wireless consumers everywhere can breathe a sigh of relief. Soon, stealing a smartphone won’t be worth the trouble, and these violent street crimes will be a thing of the past. The devices we use every day will no longer make us targets for violent criminals.”

SB 962 applies to smartphones manufactured after July 1, 2015 and sold in California. Apple already includes an Activation Lock feature in iOS that lets you remotely lock your device. You can locate your device and remotely play a sound, display a message, erase, or lock your device using the Find My iPhone app. Enable the feature if you haven't already!


Governor Signs Bill Requiring All Smartphones Sold in California to Have Built-In Kill SwitchGovernor Signs Bill Requiring All Smartphones Sold in California to Have Built-In Kill SwitchGovernor Signs Bill Requiring All Smartphones Sold in California to Have Built-In Kill Switch

Governor Signs Bill Requiring All Smartphones Sold in California to Have Built-In Kill SwitchGovernor Signs Bill Requiring All Smartphones Sold in California to Have Built-In Kill Switch
Befuddled - August 26, 2014 at 10:19pm
This is absolutely ridiculous. Most thieves aren't stupid, just grimy as hell, lazy and prone to making poor decisions. That being said, any thief that is targeting a smartphone more than likely has the sense to either turn off data and/or location services, or even restore the phone to factory settings. iCloud activation lock works great to inhibit factory restores, but not for tracking or remote locking, as turning off data and/or location services nullifies those functions. For CDMA phones, an SMS text code to the phone to disable it would be a perfect solution, but for GSM phones, all you would have to do is remove the SIM. That could be circumvented by SIM locking all GSM phones with ICCID SIMs, and then incorporating an SMS lock. I know of no such application that exists that performs this function, but I can't think of a better, less invasive and more effective solution, but hey, what do I know?
Tom - August 26, 2014 at 6:40pm
This requires GPS to be on and GPS drains battery. I always turn my GPS off and only use it when needed. It would be better if tech companies find a way not to use GPS to lock and disable the phone useless.
Kornmehl - August 26, 2014 at 5:41pm
Let me see if I understand this correctly. Joe is a putz. I am NOT a putz. Joe loses his cell phone while drunk/stoned/'busy being a dem"/etc. Joe will now be able to retrieve his cell phone thanks to technology that I had to help pay for, even though I don't lose my cell phone. Is that an accurate summary?
Nice idea but - August 26, 2014 at 5:31pm
Landmark? Seriously?
Wicwbycub - August 26, 2014 at 3:56pm
Privacy is a thing of the past. If you think you're protecting your privacy and think you're hiding stuff from the government you're wrong. This was proven a year ago. So unless you have a reason to hide something privacy shouldn't matter.
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