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California’s “kill switch” bill only need the governor’s approval now

The California state Senate on Monday passed a bill crafted to protect against smartphone theft by requiring manufacturers turn on a “kill switch” when a device is first activated, something Apple currently employs in iOS as an opt-in feature. California’s legislative push to require so-called “kill switches” of smartphone manufacturers moved closer to becoming law, as a bill passed through the Senate with a final tally of 27-8, reports The Wall Street Journal. The state’s governor, Jerry Brown, has 12 days to sign the bill into law.

A bill that mandates antitheft technology to come pre-installed on all smartphones sold in California is headed to the governor after passing a final California Senate vote on Monday. The bill, introduced by state Sen. Mark Leno and sponsored by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, asks that device makers put so-called “kill-switch” technology on every smartphone, though users could choose to opt-out of the security services. The software lets users lock the phone if it is stolen, making it inoperable. The bill passed with a 27 to 8 vote. The proposed legislation, formally named SB962, addresses what government officials have called an “epidemic.” One in 10 smartphone owners in the US has had a phone stolen, according to the mobile security firm Lookout. In 2013, more than 3 million Americans were the victims of smartphone theft — nearly twice as many as the year before, according to Consumer Reports. On Gascon’s home turf of San Francisco, more than 65 percent of robberies in 2013 involved a mobile device. The rate jumps up to more than 75 percent across the bay in Oakland.

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