security alert

California Signs Cellphone ‘Kill Switches’ Into Law

New York, are you listening?
(Photo: PC Mag)

(Photo: PC Mag)

Long live the kill switch.

Yesterday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law its highly anticipated “kill switch” bill. Under the new guidelines, cell phones sold in the state are required to come with a button that makes the device inoperable if stolen or lost. Law enforcement officials said it works remotely and they hope the antitheft feature deters criminals from stealing phones. 

California is the second state to implement this. Last May, Minnesota ordered manufacturers to ship phones with a similar feature, but they don’t have to tell customers they have it. That’s different from California’s law because the kill switch will be turned on by default and users will have to manually disable the feature if they don’t want it on.

The bill was praised by its sponsors, State Senator Mark Leno and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. “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,” said Senator Leno, in a statement.

The kill switches, however, won’t appear overnight because they won’t be installed on to phones until July 2015.

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