Lawmakers flip ‘kill switch’ to fight cell phone theft

Written by

Taking the profit motive out of smartphone theft is the motivation behind a bill that’s passed both houses of the state Legislature and is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The so-called “kill-switch” law would force phone companies to include a feature allowing people to permanently shut down their phones if they are stolen or lost. Consumer activists say the “kill switch” would protect users’ personal information and cut down on smartphone theft – which is one of the fastest growing categories of crime statewide. Police agencies overwhelmingly support the bill.

Phone makers initially opposed it. But they relented after tablet computers were exempted and the start date was pushed back until next July.

The bill is still opposed by a wireless industry trade group. They say a law is not needed because phone makers have voluntarily decided to install anti-theft features.>

Read about a new study that says a national “kill switch” law would save consumers billions of dollars a year: