California passes smartphone kill switch bill

Posted by: Jennifer Cefai (2 years, 5 months ago)

After the first submission was initially rejected, the Californian Senate has approved a revision of the smartphone kill switch bill. Apple and Microsoft played an influential role in getting the bill passed this time, which would see the building of software specifically catered to "killing" a phone in the event of it being stolen. 

The criteria of the bill include:

  • The kill software must make the smartphone impossible to use, even after a hard reset is performed. Additionally, only the phone's owner will be able to reconnect it to the network.
  • The deadline for manufacturers is July 1 2015, which is when the bill will come into full force. Manufacturers who violate the law will face a $2,500 fine, per device.
  • On the other hands, users will not be forced to use the kill switch software, and can choose to deactivate it after purchase. 

The bill has yet to go to the State Assembly, and is expected to be modified once more. While Mark Leno, the man behind the bill, called this a "big success" and spoke of his hopes that other states would take up California's example, a lot of people have been left with a bitter taste in their mouths. Main concerns are based on potential system misuse, for example in the cases of rape or domestic abuse, which would allow the abuse in question to lock their victim's phone. 

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