Kill Switch To Be Integrated By Default In Californian Phones
California has gained status as the first state to pass an anti-phone-theft bill which is making the integration of a kill switch in all smartphones a necessity. The purpose of this bill is to reduce crime rate where handset thefts account for more than 50% of the crimes in California.
A kill switch is often called an “emergency stop” – which is self explanatory. It is a software that disables a phone completely, should a user report it as stolen, thereby rendering the phone useless for the thief. The phone can then be reactivated with a correct password or personal identification number.
“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, author of the bill. “California has just put smartphone thieves on notice.”
Though Minnesota was the actual state that passed a bill in favor of kill switches earlier this year, it might not perform as effectively as this one because it did not enforce this anti-theft feature in the phones. Instead, it made the option of opt-in available to all users so they could utilize the feature.
“Opt-in does not end the problem. Because it will not be ubiquitous,” said Leno.
The basic idea behind this step is to forewarn the thieves. If they know that the phone is useless and certainly not resalable, there will be little motivation to steal the phone in the first place.
America has lately become prone to this crime at an alarmingly increasing rate, with 1.6m phones being stolen in 2012, and 3m the next year. At this rate, you’d probably expect the thieves to have stolen more phones than being bought in a few years.
However, this law will only apply to smartphones – and not any other portable devices – sold in California after July 1, 2015. In case there is any phone not in compliance with the bill, a penalty of $500 – $2,500 has been declared for the knowing retail sale.
The bill has received some raised voices from the wireless industry, which believes a kill switch is a gateway for hackers. The CTIA, an organization representing the wireless industry, said that this action was actually “unnecessary” given the amount of precautions all wireless companies had taken in this account.
Microsoft is already planning to introduce a kill switch in its future update for the Windows Phone OS. Google is also integrating one in the next version of Android, whereas Apple already has its kill switch software, Find My iPhone Activation Lock, up and running, even preventing iPads along with iPhones.
However, the supporters of the bill managed to take the favor, making the bill effective when the declared time comes.