California governor signs kill switch bill into law

The on-again, off-again saga of smartphone kill switches in California is now officially on-again, as Governor Jerry Brown (D) Monday signed a bill mandating the anti-theft features as of July 2015.

According to an article at Business Insider, the California bill "would be the strongest attempt yet by a U.S. state to fight smartphone theft, which accounts for more than half of crimes in several of the state's large cities."

Smartphone theft has been dramatically on the rise in the past two years, prompting earlier efforts in the state to mandate so-called "kill switches." The feature enables users to render a mobile device ineffective in the event it is lost or stolen. The goal is to prevent would-be thieves from being able to access data stored on the device.

Under the new California law, all smartphones sold in the state as of July 15 must be equipped with a kill switch feature allowing for remote shut-down.

The article cites statistics from the National Consumers League, which reports that handheld devices were stolen from 1.6 million Americans in 2012. It further reports that smartphone thefts account for more than half of all reported crimes in some cities in California.

Not surprisingly, California law enforcement officials have pushed for the passage of the kill switch legislation.

"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," the bill's author, state Senator Mark Leno (D), was quoted as saying.

For more:
- check out the Business Insider article

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