California proposes mandatory kill-switch on phones and tablets

Proposed legislation part of an effort to slow rising smartphone and tablet thefts

IDG News Service – Politicians and law enforcement officials in California will introduce a bill on Friday that requires all smartphones and tablet PCs sold in the state be equipped with a digital “kill-switch” that would make the devices useless if stolen.

The bill is a response to a rise in thefts of portable electronics devices, often at knife or gunpoint, being seen across the state. Already half of all robberies in San Francisco and 75% of those in Oakland involve a mobile device and the number is rising in Los Angeles, according to police figures.

The trend is the same in major cities across the U.S. and the California bill, if it passes, could usher in kill-switch technology nationwide if phone makers choose not to produce custom devices for California.

California Senate bill 962 says all smartphones and tablet PCs sold from Jan. 1, 2015, should have “a technological solution that can render the essential features of the device inoperable when the device is not in possession of the rightful owner.”

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