Calif. Smartphone Kill Switch Bill Is Close to Passage
Lawmakers have flipped the kill switch again, and legislation nearly defeated by the powerful wireless communications industry appears close to passage.
At stake is a bill that would allow owners to remotely deactivate their smartphones if they are stolen -- and prevent random calls and a loss of private personal data.
Law enforcement hailed it as a crime-fighting measure. But tech groups that assailed SB 962 as over-regulation prevailed in the spring. The bill was defeated the first time it came up for a vote by the full Senate in May. But in Sacramento, nothing is ever dead. Last month, under intense lobbying pressure, the bill was revived after phone makers and marketers dropped their opposition.
The revised bill by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) passed the Senate and sailed through two Assembly committees. The full Assembly is expected to vote Thursday.
The bill, if passed and signed by the governor, would make California the second state, after Minnesota, to require smartphone kill switches.
Led by San Francisco Dist. Atty. George Gascon, the push for passage gained strength with a new report and survey by a Nebraska business professor. The analysis concluded that smartphone owners could save an estimated $3.4 billion a year if their handsets were rendered worthless by activation of a kill switch.
"If all stolen phones could easily be disabled, criminals would have virtually no incentive to steal a phone in the first place," said William Duckworth of Creighton University in Omaha. He said that an online survey of smartphone owners showed overwhelming support for the kill-switch option.
The Gascon-Leno proposal is supported by consumer groups, law enforcement and city governments including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Ana, Oakland and San Diego.
It's opposed by the California and Los Angeles area chambers of commerce, tech groups and CTIA, a national wireless trade group. They contend that it's bad public policy for states to pass their own technical regulations for products sold nationally.
CTIA's opposition is not shared by some of its members. According to Gascon, most smartphone makers and marketers, including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Blackberry, Verizon and AT&T, removed their earlier opposition to the bill.
© 2014 Los Angeles Times (CA) under contract with NewsEdge. All rights reserved.
Posted: 2014-08-07 @ 9:16am PT
I agree that this kind of smart regulation ultimately needs to be nationwide, not just at the state level. But we have to start somewhere - if we wait for the feds, it will never happen!
Posted: 2014-08-07 @ 9:12am PT
This is so badly needed. Since "flipping the switch" would be an entirely voluntary act by the phone owner, I just don't see it as overregulation, as the mobile industry lamely tries to label it. How many muggings, assaults, and robberies would we prevent if criminals knew the phones would be shortly inoperable?
Posted: 2014-08-06 @ 5:56pm PT
It's about time. The risk of being attacked to get your $800 iPhone is ridiculous. Hopefully, once people catch on, this crime will stop.