News East west
NEW YORK: In a first of its kind, a bill was introduced in the California state assembly on Friday, requiring smart phones and tablets to have a `kill switch’ that can remotely disable them in case they are stolen or lost.
If passed, it will be the first such law in the US and anywhere in the world.
Under the law, smart phone and tablet makers will have to feature the `kill switch’ in their devices. If they ignore the law, they face a hefty fine of $2,500 for each device sold in California.
The bill, which has been co-authored by California State Senator Mark Leno and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, aims to curb the all-time high theft of smart phones in California.
Leno said, “They (the wireless industry) have a choice. They can either be a part of the problem or part of the solution, especially when there is one readily available.’’
The deadline for inclusion of anti-theft features in smart phones and tablets in June 2014.
Apple has already included a default feature – called activation lock – in iOS 7 that requires owners to set a password that stops thieves from reactivating a stolen phone.
One in three smart phones was stolen in the US in 2012 and it cost the consumers over $30 billion, says the Federal Communications Commission.
But there is a problem if the devices come with a `kill switch.’
According to the Wireless Association – or the CTIA – which is the trade association of wireless providers such as AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint, the inclusion of the `kill switch’ in devices will come in handy for hackers who could use it to disable phones used by government officials, homeland security, police and law enforcement agencies. It says it will challenge the law.