California's mobile device kill switch bill rides again

Tools

Efforts in California to require mobile device kill switches live on again, as the state senate has passed a bill mandating the anti-theft feature for all smartphones sold in that state.

In a vote on the bill last week, 26 state senators voted to back the legislation proposed by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, when 21 votes were needed for support. The bill will now head to the Democratic-controlled assembly, notes an article at CIO.

A similar kill switch bill had previously failed to get needed support when it went before the state senate last month. The proposed legislation underwent some tweaking, such as a change to limit kill switches to smartphones, not tablets. And companies would now have until July 1, 2015, to comply with the requirement should the bill pass in the assembly.

The article notes that CTIA, the lobbying arm of the wireless industry, "remains very much opposed to the proposed California law, for an ever-shifting number of reasons. Last fall, it was because kill switches would be an attractive target for mischief-minded hackers. When Leno introduced his bill in February, the CTIA argued that keeping a database of stolen phones was a more effective way to deter theft. On Thursday, the CTIA fretted about the vagaries of state-by-state mandates."

According to an article at Information Week, CTIA last month said its members had voluntarily agreed to deploy, after July 2015, "a baseline anti-theft tool." This tool could be either preloaded or downloaded. The association noted that all its member mobile carriers have pledged to support the tool.

"What the group did not promise, however, is that this anti-theft technology would be enabled by default," the article said. "Leno argues that's not enough and insists that deploying kill switch technology will reduce the theft of mobile phones."

For more:
- check out the CIO article
- read the Information Week article

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