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California wants smartphone killswitch enshrined in law

Signs a death warrant for pinched phones
Mon Dec 23 2013, 11:08
The sun sets over San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge

US STATE CALIFORNIA is heading towards legislation that would require that local smartphones have a so-called Killswitch that makes them inoperable.

The kill switch tech comes from Apple and Samsung in the main, but is being held at arm's length by carriers in the US. There are already moves afoot to push wireless carriers AT&T, US Cellular, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile in the direction of the security feature and the New York Attorney's Office has already written to the firms and demanded answers on when they might do that.

"The first carrier to incorporate a kill switch on Samsung smartphones would burnish its reputation not only as the carrier of choice for consumers who want the best anti-theft technology, but also as a responsible corporate citizen," said NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman earlier this month.

Schneiderman has enlisted district attorneys into a campaign called Save Our Smartphones, so far 30 district attorneys have put their names to it.

This weekend Senator Mark Leno and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón announced their shot at the kill switch and talked up legislation that will be formally introduced in January at the start of the 2014 legislative session.

"One of the top catalysts for street crime in many California cities is smartphone theft, and these crimes are becoming increasingly violent," said Leno.

"We cannot continue to ignore our ability to utilize existing technology to stop cell phone thieves in their tracks. It is time to act on this serious public safety threat to our communities."

This threat is a very real one, they added, and locals need to be protected. "I appreciate the efforts that many of the manufacturers are making, but the deadline we agreed upon is rapidly approaching and most do not have a technological solution in place," added Gascón.

"Californians continue to be victimized at an alarming rate, and this legislation will compel the industry to make the safety of their customers a priority." µ


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