Members of the California Legislature adopted a measure on Monday that requires all smart phones sold in the state to come pre-equipped with “kill switch” technology that enables subscribers to disable devices when they are stolen. A week after California Assembly members voted in favor of the bill, the California Senate approved the legislation by a 27-8 margin. Once the bill is signed by state governor Jerry Brown (D), California would follow Minnesota as the second U.S. state to enact a kill switch mandate. Earlier this year, Senate Antitrust Subcommittee Chairwoman Amy Klobuchar (D- MN) introduced a kill switch measure in the U.S. Senate, and efforts are underway in New York, Illinois, Rhode Island and several other states to adopt similar legislation.
Manufacturers of smart phones sold in California are required to comply with the kill switch mandate effective on July 1, 2015 and to activate the kill switch during the initial process of setting up a wireless device. The measure also requires carriers to confirm the user name and password of any wireless device that has been de-activated before the device may be used again. Retailers that knowingly violate the bill’s requirements may be subject to a civil penalty of between $500 and $2,500 for each violation.
Applauding the bill’s passage, California State Senator Mark Leno (D) emphasized that “our goal is to swiftly take the wind out of the sails of thieves who have made the theft of smart phones one of the most prevalent street crimes in California’s biggest cities.” Pointing out that its members signed a voluntary agreement in April to create anti-theft tools for smart phone subscribers, wireless association CTIA described the bill as “unnecessary, given the breadth of action the industry has taken.”