California Governor Signs Bill Requiring Smartphone 'Kill Switch'


California Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday requiring all smartphones sold in the state to come with a "kill switch" to render them inoperable if lost or stolen. The bill was drawn up in response to an “epidemic” of smartphone theft in the state. “The devices we use every day will no longer make us targets for violent criminals,” said San Francisco County District Attorney George Gascón, who spearheaded the legislation.

Gascón, joined by New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, joined forces to create a coalition of hundreds of law enforcement, public safety and consumer advocates to push the world’s biggest smartphone manufacturers to adopt technology that would allow the devices to be tracked or instantaneously rendered inoperable. Pressure mounted as cellphone-related crimes climbed. And with wide availability of the technology, legislators were convinced that it should be a required standard. The new law applies to all smartphones sold in California after July 1, 2015. Minnesota passed the nation's first kill-switch mandate in May, but California's bill goes further, requiring manufacturers to notify consumers that the technology is available on their phones.




— Andrew Blankstein