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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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  • California (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:44PM (#45740557)

    It's amazing how these retards affect everything that is sold the in the US.

  • No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:45PM (#45740565)

    On the surface one might thing âoeThatâ(TM)s a great idea, it would make stolen phone useless!â

    But beyond the idea that eventually hackers would find a path around such measures, it also opens the door to abuse by âoeLaw Enforcementâ, who are notoriously unable to police themselves from both breaking the law and abusing the privileges they have been given.

  • Watch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by msobkow (48369) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:45PM (#45740567) Homepage Journal

    The crackers will figure out how to trigger the remote kill switch without your authorization, bricking thousands if not millions of phones.

    Or the goobernmint will...

  • Re:Watch (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrDoh! (71235) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:52PM (#45740651) Homepage Journal
    Think that's morel likely. Next Occupy confrontation, suddenly everyone's phone stops working.
  • Re:Watch (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @05:53PM (#45740667) Homepage Journal

    The crackers will figure out how to trigger the remote kill switch without your authorization, bricking thousands if not millions of phones.

    Or the goobernmint will...

    Incoming text: Send me $100 dollars or I'll freeze your phone.

  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:01PM (#45740767) Homepage Journal
    More importantly...

    I'm getting sick of CA putting out rules and "standards" that spread to other states that don't want/need them.

  • by Tanuki64 (989726) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:11PM (#45740861)

    ...but the foo cell phone contains a component, which violates one of our patents. Therefore we demand, that all foo cell phones are disabled immediately.

  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:22PM (#45740989)

    Now you know how the rest of the planet feels about the US...

  • by TehZorroness (1104427) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:25PM (#45741027)

    Funny how the propaganda machine skews things. I bet you never visited a camp and actually talked to the people... naa. You probably just listened to a bunch of phony reporters on TV talking shit, combined with cherry-picked sound bites. I spent two weeks sleeping on the sidewalk of Manhattan starting on September 17th, while working full time over in Jersey. I'll be the first to tell you, there was a share of people who are a little bit loony, but you'll find them at any protest. On the other hand, I've never met so many people who were in touch with what is going on in our country and in our world. Compared to the average American slob who does nothing but work, shop, and watch TV, these people actually saw the world for what it was, were disgusted, and were willing to make sacrifices to get out and find concensus among their fellow citizens and discuss the real problems our society faces and try to improve things. If you think that is counter-productive, I hope you like what you get for sitting on your ass and doing nothing until election day when you get to choose which lying bastard you want to get blamed for all the bad things that happen to you while the real crooks get away with murder behind the veil.

  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TENTH SHOW JAM (599239) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:26PM (#45741031) Homepage

    Each phone has an IMEI burned into it's hardware. This IMEI and the phone number are transmitted to the cell tower every time you communicate. All IMEIs for a given carrier are whitelisted. What the system does is remove the IMEI of stolen phones from the whitelist. A hacker would have to change the IMEI of the phone to another one on the whitelist. This may be trivial or hard based on the hardware, but such systems have been active in Australia for 20 years now, and the market for stolen phones is still non existent.

  • by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craig@g[ ] ['mai' in gap]> on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:31PM (#45741101)

    Dare I hope that this law will contain specific text prohibiting service providers from abusing this for contract issues or nonpayment? Naaaah, that would be asking too much of our corporate overlords and their paid^H^H^H^Helected cronies....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:32PM (#45741109)

    Plain stupid

    In 3 years the phones will cost nothing so there will be no reason to steal a phone [*]
    What will matters would be data on those phone.
    Kill switch will be the perfect target for hackers/terrorists.

    [*] Of course there still will be phone with a fruit logo on it that would still cost $$$$. But who cares ? If that matters we could force all vendors to adopt the same logo to confuse the thieves.

  • by s.petry (762400) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @06:38PM (#45741161)
    Glad to see that propaganda works so well. If the TV box told you it was true, it must be true. Never check any facts, including literature and political leaders of these groups. Just believe that picture box!

  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @07:01PM (#45741393)

    "Oh, you found your missing phone, which you thought was stolen, so we bricked it. Certainly we can unbrick it - for a modest fee of $85 - MUAH HA HA HA HAAAAAAH! Oh, pardon I dribbled a bit at the thought of extracting this fee for 5 seconds work. Excuse me while I get a mop and a bucket.""

    That might be their ideal intent, but it ain't gonna happen.

    The reason is this: the only way to do a "kill switch" reliably, which can't be bypassed, is to truly brick the phone, beyond repair. Anything else, and hack solutions to un-brick would be available for free in 2 weeks.

    Aaaaaannnddd... to illustrate the true idiocy of this idea: if they do implement "remote kill", hacks to do THAT will also be available soon for free. So thousands if not millions will be able to kiss their phones goodbye because someone who doesn't like them pulls a malicious prank.

  • Re:No... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 19, 2013 @07:13PM (#45741497)

    So you're for "State's Rights", but only for the states you like.

  • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @07:22PM (#45741597)

    Why not just mandate the carriers participate in international IMEI black lists?
    It doesn't stop the phone working, just means it can't connect to the network.
    Still has the effect of lowering the value of a stolen phone.

  • Re:No... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FatLittleMonkey (1341387) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @08:19PM (#45742007)

    Or do tourists have to register their phones before they can roam? What about tourists who want a prepaid SIM for the duration of their stay - do they now need to register their physical phone too?

    Yes. That's what the IMEI is for. When you connect to a new network, the phone registers its IMEI with that network. That allows the network to connect the handset-identity to your sim-identity. Without that, the network would be unable to connect your phone across cells.

    you need a different working phone to call your carrier and have that phone added to this white list?

    You've got it backwards. The IMEI list is black, not white. If you report your phone stolen, the IMEI for that phone goes on the blacklist. When a phone connects to any network, it reports its IMEI. The network can then check against a black-list of stolen phones and if it's on the list either refuse to connect the handset, or report information to the police who track down the phone. The former is what happens in my country, which slashed the rates of stolen phones. The latter seems more useful in the US, where phones have mandatory GPS.

    [BTW, phone networks opposed the black-list idea in this country, so I presume that's why California introduced the kill-switch plan, to push the burden onto international manufacturers rather than domestic networks.]

  • Re:No... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whistlingtony (691548) on Thursday December 19, 2013 @09:53PM (#45742549)

    /sarcasm Yeah! damn California and their emissions rules. If they hadn't passed regulations in cali, the auto manufacturers wouldn't have had to change, and my car would still get 15m/gal! Etc etc etc... Damn California! Not to mention all those things that cause cancer in California... but not in other states.

    There's a lot wrong with Cali, but all the rules and regulations that have come out of there have been to everyone's benefit. Why do people keep criticizing the very people who are helping them?

  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Friday December 20, 2013 @08:51AM (#45744687) Journal

    The law, as I understand it, is to allow the authority, to issue a command to render a particular smartphone totally unusable.

    However, the same law could be misused by the authority as well (think of what NSA is doing, for example) - instead of killing a smartphone that has been reported stolen, the authority could issue a kill command to smartphones that are being used by "dissidents", cutting off their communication lines.

    Do not ever forget that inside the NSA datacenter they have all the information of who is using what phone, who calls whom and when and how often and where they call from, etc.

    Right now, without the KILL SWITCH, all they could do is to LISTEN IN to the communications of people. With KILL SWITCH, they could kill off all the communication channels of the anti-NSA people, and render them totally unable to communicate with the world.

Money is the root of all evil, and man needs roots.