California wants kill switches on all mobile devices

California lawmakers unveiled a bill Thursday that would require a kill switch for every mobile smartphone and tablet sold in the state. Such a function would render a device unusable in the event it is lost or stolen.

As noted in an article at Network World, motivation for the bill is more than just data security. It comes in response to a growing number of portable electronic thefts, including a rise in violent crime involving guns or knives.

"Already half of all robberies in San Francisco and 75 percent of those in Oakland involve a mobile device and the number is rising in Los Angeles," the article noted.

The bill, introduced Feb. 6 into the California state legislature, was sponsored by Sen. Mark Leno and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon with the backing of law enforcement officials. It does not specify what technology would be required for the kill switch, but instead leaves that up to the device manufacturer.

In the event of a mobile device's theft, the bill requires manufacturers to make some form of a kill switch accessible to the owner, preventing the device from receiving or sending calls, accessing the Internet or running applications.

According to the bill, all smartphones and tablet PCs sold after Jan. 1, 2015, would be required to have "a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in possession of the rightful owner."

The bill also calls for a fine of $500 to $2,500 per device sold in the state that doesn't have the technology.

For more:
- read the Network World article
- check out the bill on the California State Legislature website (.pdf)

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