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Proposed California Law Would Mandate Smartphone Kill Switch 252

Posted by timothy
from the kill-kill-kill dept.
alphadogg writes "Kill-switch technology that can render a lost or stolen smartphone useless would become mandatory in California under a new bill that will be proposed to the state legislature in January. The bill will be introduced by Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat representing San Francisco and neighboring towns, and George Gascón, the district attorney for San Francisco. Gascón has been spearheading a push by major law-enforcement agencies across the U.S. for more to be done to prevent smartphone theft. The proposed law could reach well beyond the borders of California. Because of the difficulty and added cost of producing handsets solely for sale in California, it could serve to make kill-switch technology a standard feature on phones sold across the U.S."
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Proposed California Law Would Mandate Smartphone Kill Switch

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  • Canada has similar (Score:5, Informative)

    by trainman (6872) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:51PM (#45740633) Homepage

    We went a similar but different direction in Canada, rather than killing the phone there's a list of IMEIs for stolen phones, and all carriers will honour not allowing phones in the database on to their networks. Which this solution sounds little less onerous than re-engineering every handset OS to have this kill ability.

    Also the phone doesn't actually have to be turned on to be blacklisted, how often will you send the "kill" pings out when stolen? Would a thief simply have to wait a few weeks until the heat dies down?

    We have devices that register with networks when activated, isn't it far easier to wait for that event than to try and push a command to a phone that may never be turned on again?

    Reference:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/stolen-phones-blacklist-launches-in-canada-1.1873674 [www.cbc.ca]

  • Re:Watch (Score:5, Informative)

    by s.petry (762400) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:31PM (#45741103)
    Logical fallacy. The Government having one form of control does not indicate that they don't want more. The concepts of dominance are not new, please stop trying to ignore them.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @07:33PM (#45741701) Homepage

    Pretty much. There's a lot of muggings and thefts (I believe the majority) done solely to grab the victim's cel phone. The thieves don't care about cash (not enough of it these days to be worth it) or credit cards (too easily traced), but ditch the SIM card and a modern smartphone's worth several hundred dollars in a package that fits conveniently in a pocket. They're also hard for the police to trace quickly: most people don't know their phone's IMEI, and by the time they go to the carrier and have the carrier report it the phone's probably in the hands of an unwitting phone-store customer who has no clue it was stolen.

    The only way to stop this is to make it so that a stolen phone's useless and the fences and phone stores know it. Right now the phone stores don't worry too much about questionable merchandise because the cops can't prove the store knew it was stolen and the phones are still usable so they won't suffer any backlash from customers. Fences will take the phones because they know they can launder them and sell them. The kill switch changes the calculus: phone stores and other resellers know they're the ones who'll catch the flak when phones they sold start getting bricked because they were stolen, that'll make it too costly for them to take a chance on questionable merchandise. Fences won't take them if there's no market for the fence to sell them off to. And the muggers will quickly stop targeting stuff once their fences won't give them any money for it.

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