February 8

Lawmaker says ‘switch’ could kill phone thefts

By Terry Collins
The Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Legislation unveiled Friday in California would require smartphones and other mobile devices to have a remotely activated “kill switch” or other safety feature to render them inoperable if lost or stolen – a move that could be the first of its kind in the country.

click image to enlarge

Nationally, almost one in three robberies involves the theft of a mobile phone, according to federal regulators. In 2012, stolen mobile devices cost consumers more than $30 billion.

Reuters

State Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and other elected and law enforcement officials said the bill, if passed, would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the anti-theft devices starting next year.

Leno and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, both Democrats, co-authored the bill to be introduced this spring. They joined Gascon, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other authorities who have been demanding that manufacturers create kill switches to combat surging smartphone theft across the country.

Leno and Gascon said they believe the bill would be the first of its kind in the U.S. Gascon and Schneiderman have given manufacturers a June 2014 deadline to come up with solutions to curb the theft of smartphones.

CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for wireless providers, says a permanent kill switch has serious risks, including potential vulnerability to hackers who could disable mobile devices and lock out not only individuals’ phones but also phones used by entities such as the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and law enforcement.

The association has been working on a national stolen-phone database that launched in November to remove any market for stolen smartphones.

“These 3G and 4G/LTE databases, which blacklist stolen phones and prevent them from being reactivated, are part of the solution,” Michael Altschul, CTIA’s senior vice president and general counsel, said in a statement. “Yet we need more international carriers and countries to participate to help remove the aftermarket abroad for these trafficked devices.”

Almost one in three U.S. robberies involve phone theft, according to the Federal Communications Commission. Lost and stolen mobile devices – mostly smartphones – cost consumers more than $30 billion in 2012, the agency said in a study.

Gascon said the industry makes an estimated $7.8 billion selling theft and loss insurance on mobile devices but must take action to end the victimization of its customers.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)