California Bill Wants to Put a Kill Switch on Your Mobile Devices

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Did someone steal your smartphone? Have your carrier kill it!

A new bill to be proposed in California today will require all smartphones and tablets in the state to include a kill switch. Basically, if you report your phone as stolen, it can be rendered unusable.

According to the FCC, one-third of all robberies in the US involve the theft of a smartphone or tablet, while District Attorney George Gascon claims a 50% rate in San Francisco.

Assuming the bill passes, all mobile devices will include a kill switch (starting January 1, 2015) if San Francisco Senator Mark Leno has his way. Leno feels the presence of a kill switch would lower the value of black market smartphones, yet the method of implementing the technology remains undecided.

Currently, there are two theories as to how the kill switch might be applied to mobile devices. The first way would require a user to contact the service provider, which would then deactivate the phone. The second method requires the original user name and password to be entered when reactivating the device. If that information isn't given, the phone or tablet will be useless.

It's definitely worth considering that this technology gives carriers too much access to personal files we have on our mobile devices.

Whether carriers want to put kill switches in place is unclear at this point. While this technology could deter the theft of mobile devices, those would-be victims also tend to buy new smartphones and tablets to replace their stolen goods, which benefits the carriers.

Via: Los Angeles Times