California Kill Switch Bill Targets Phone Thieves
California bill directs mobile hardware makers to include a way to disable stolen communications devices. Will privacy concerns be addressed?
California State Senator Mark Leno on Friday introduced a bill that, if passed, will require makers of mobile communications devices sold in the state after Jan. 1, 2015 to include technology that can render such devices inoperable when lost or stolen.
The mandated technology, commonly referred to as a "kill switch," may be implemented in software or hardware, but must be able to survive a factory reset. To comply, companies might have to do additional engineering work on their mobile devices -- factory resets typically erase all data by reformatting storage media and might not be set up to handle exceptions. The specified fine for the absence of a kill switch ranges from $500 to $2,500 per violation.
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The bill stipulates that the physical action necessary to disable the kill switch may only be taken by the rightful owner of the device or a person designated by the owner; the mobile carrier may not do so, but presumably could with the owner's permission. The mobile carrier also may not encourage the disabling of the kill switch.
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