California bill would require mobile devices to come installed with a kill-switch

Officials in California on Friday are set to outline proposed state legislation requiring smartphones and other mobile devices to have a “kill switch” that would render them inoperable if lost or stolen. State Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and other officials have scheduled a news conference about a proposed measure that would require any mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have built-in anti-theft devices.

Politicians and law enforcement officials in California will introduce a bill on Friday that requires all smartphones and tablet PCs sold in the state be equipped with a digital “kill-switch” that would make the devices useless if stolen. The bill is a response to a rise in thefts of portable electronics devices, often at knife or gunpoint, being seen across the state. Already half of all robberies in San Francisco and 75 percent of those in Oakland involve a mobile device and the number is rising in Los Angeles, according to police figures. The trend is the same in major cities across the U.S. and the California bill, if it passes, could usher in kill-switch technology nationwide if phone makers choose not to produce custom devices for California.

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