U.S. News


Industry Groups Oppose Calif. Smartphone 'Kill Switch' Law

California passed a bill mandating smartphones be sold with kill switches to deter theft, but industry groups say the state went too far.
Posted at 11:45 PM, Aug 25, 2014

Losing your phone can be a pretty big bummer — especially if its stolen. Or if you misplace it and whoever finds it decides they want to keep it, which is kinda' the same thing. Well, California has passed a solution. 

It's Senate Bill 962 — signed into law by California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday. The new law will require smartphones sold in the state to have mandatory "kill switch" features pre-installed starting July 2015.

The bill was created by California senator Mark Leno in response to rampant smartphone theft and its associated dangers. 

"People have died as a result of a robbery including a smartphone."

Now, if smartphone companies such as Apple, Samsung, Google or Microsoft want to sell their products in California stores, they have to include ways to hamper thieves who get ahold of their products.

Apple already implemented this with iOS 7, requiring folks to authenticate their phone before wiping any data off of it or disabling the location feature. (Video via CMD New Media)

And, as TechHive writes, since making special smartphones for California as opposed to every other state would be an unattractive option, this law will have an impact on more than Golden State residents.

So hey, kill switches for all. That's good right? Well, a few groups aren't exactly big fans of the law.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation released a statement earlier this summer opposing the bill, citing the potential for abuse and its disruption of competition.

And CTIA, a group that represents wireless telecom agencies, released a statement saying, "Today's action was unnecessary given the breadth of action the industry has taken. ​State by state technology mandates, such as this one ... are detrimental to wireless consumers."

​The group proposed a voluntary agreement for offering theft deterrent features earlier this year that essentially all major smartphone manufacturers had already agreed to.

While similar to California's new law, The Verge notes the biggest differences between the two is that CTIA's agreement doesn't stipulate that companies include the features at purchase and doesn't threaten to prevent smartphones from being sold without the features.

The bill isn't the first of its kind either. Minnesota passed a similar "mandatory kill switch" bill earlier this year. It's also due to begin July 1, 2015.