‘Kill Switch’ Smart Phone Bill Passes In California
All phones sold in the State will be mandated to integrate controversial technology
Aug 12, 2014
Legislation introduced to the Californian Senate earlier this year mandating ‘kill switches’ on all smart phones has been passed and sent to the Governor’s desk for approval.
Governor Jerry Brown is expected to sign bill CA SB 962 in the coming weeks, meaning that it will be against the law for any supplier or carrier in the State to sell a mobile phone that is not fitted with the technology.
Manufacturers will have until July 1, 2015 to ensure that all their phones are equipped with the means to “render the essential features of the smartphone inoperable when not in the possession of the authorized user.”
The legislation, introduced in February, passed on a vote of 53-20.
Although the owner would have the option to disable the function under the language of the bill, many will likely believe it is essential, as users will be prompted to enable the feature upon initial setup of the device.
The bill also states that manufacturers must fit technology that will prevent phones from being re-activated on any network without the owner’s approval. Phones must also be fitted with the ability to be reactivated, should they be returned to the rightful owner. Under the legislation, the State will levy penalties of between $500 and $2,500 on anyone discovered to be selling stolen phones.
While police departments and city officials have expressed support for the legislation, some manufacturers and rights groups have issued warnings regarding the move.
They suggest that while the ‘kill switch’ would ostensibly be included to discourage theft, it could also be “exploited by malicious actors” as the Electronic Frontier Foundation explained in a letter written in June.