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CA. Requires Smartphone Kill Switches

California governor Jerry Brown signed a bill yesterday which requires all smartphones sold in California to come with a ‘kill switch’ to render them useless if stolen or lost. According to a Reuters article, this new law was pushed by the high smartphone theft statistics in the golden state.

With the new law, all smartphones sold after July 2015 will be required to have the technology to be shut down remotely. The law received widespread support from law officials and lawmakers alike, in the hopes that smartphone theft will be reduced. It is estimated that more than half of all crimes committed in San Francisco, Oakland and other major California cities involve smartphone theft.

While it may sound like a big step (and it is) it isn’t exactly a new topic. You might recall that in April, the CTIA finally endorsed the ‘kill switch’ idea and phone manufacturers pledged to include this technology for the privacy of consumers. In May, Minnesota passed the first official ‘kill switch’ law, which California copied, requiring that all phones sold in the state after July 2015 have a ‘kill switch.’ It’s a battle that has been going on for a couple years at least, and it’s looking pretty irreversible now as more states and companies endorse the idea.

In fact, Apple’s iOS 7 already has a ‘kill switch’ measure where users can remotely wipe their iPhones of all information. According to a PC World article, the technology reduced iPhone thefts significantly. Now, after a year of pressure, Google and Microsoft are finally stepping up and adding it to their OS as well. (Not like they have much of a choice if they want to sell phones in those states, but hey, it’s the thought that counts.)

Personally, with how much personal information can be stored on phone nowadays, I think this measure is a long time in coming and would certainly make me feel better about syncing my entire life to one device. It’s nice to finally see the lawmakers stepping firmly into the 21st century as far as cell phones are concerned and protecting the rights and privacy of consumers. Hopefully these measures will help curb thefts for a while, at least.