California may require Smartphone ‘kill switch’

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California is on the verge of becoming the latest state to require shut-off functions in smartphones as a way to deter thefts.

SB962 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, is supported by law enforcement and consumer groups as a response to a crime problem that has exploded nationwide. It passed the state Assembly on a 51-18 vote Thursday and will return to the Senate for a final vote on amendments.

Under the bill, smartphones must be sold with technology, a “kill switch,” that deactivates them if stolen. It does not apply to tablets or laptops.

“None of us should have our lives at risk because we walk down the streets with this device each and every one of us use all day long,” said Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, holding up her iPhone on the Assembly floor.

The San Francisco district attorney’s office says more than half of all robberies in the city last year included the theft of a smartphone. Supporters of the bill also cite a Consumer Reports study that estimated 3.1 million mobile devices were stolen nationally in 2013, double a year earlier.

A report by state attorneys general, prosecutors, police and other officials, released in June, showed how deactivation devices are working to reduce smartphone thefts. After Apple added an optional “kill switch” feature to its iPhones last September, robberies of Apple products in New York City dropped 19 percent while grand larcenies dropped 29 percent in the first five months of 2014 compared with a year earlier.

In May, Minnesota became the first state to mandate the shut-off technology on all smartphones tablets sold in the state, effective next July.

Leno’s bill failed an initial vote in April after fierce opposition from wireless companies and manufacturers warning against varying state regulations for products sold internationally. Manufacturers including Apple, Samsung and Blackberry dropped their opposition after lawmakers agreed to amendments.

SB962, if signed by the governor, would apply to smartphones manufactured and sold after July 2015.

Some Republican lawmakers said the legislation overreached, pointing to voluntary steps taken by cellphone companies to adopt the technology and take other measures to discourage robberies.

“This is another example of California thinking that it knows better than our technology innovators and the customers they serve,” said Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.

CTIA — The Wireless Association, a trade group, remains opposed, saying deactivation rules should not vary by state.

More in Herald Business Journal

Stan Jones, left, father of Vice Chairwoman Teri Gobin, gets a handshake from Jared Parks and Herman Williams Sr. hugs Bonnie Juneau, right, after the Tulalip Tribes and Quil Ceda Creek Casino held a groundbreaking ceremony for the new Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel on Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2017 at Tulalip Reservation, Wa. The casino hotel will be built on sixteen (16) acres of ancestral Tulalip Tribal land and will will feature a main Casino that will showcase as many as 1,500 slot machines. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Tulalips break ground on new Quil Ceda Creek Casino Hotel

A 150-room hotel was added to the now $140 million project.

Teddy, an English bulldog, models Zentek Clothing’s heat regulating dog jacket. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Everett clothing company keeps your dog cool and stylish

Zentek uses space-age fabrics to moderate the temperature of pets and now humans.

Everett engineers learn lessons from Mexico City catastrophe

Structural scientists went to help after the September earthquake there and studied the damage.

Boeing raises dividend 20%, continues stock buyback program

The manufacturer said it has repurchased $9.2 billion worth of its shares this year.

Providence Hospital in Everett at sunset Monday night. Officials Providence St. Joseph Health Ascension Health reportedly are discussing a merger that would create a chain of hospitals, including Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, plus clinics and medical care centers in 26 states spanning both coasts. (Kevin Clark / The Daily Herald)
Merger would make Providence part of health care behemoth

Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension Health are said to be talking. Swedish would also be affected.

Hospital companies merge as insurers encroach on their turf

An anticipated deal between Providence St. Joseph Health and Ascension is only the latest.

DaVita to sell off medical groups including The Everett Clinic

Another round of health care consolidation means The Everett Clinic could soon get new ownership.

Engine trouble hits Air New Zealand’s 787 Dreamliners

A Rolls-Royce engine was shut down and was afterward found to be seriously damaged.

Trudeau snubs Boeing, unveils plan to buy used Aussie jets

Trudeau will be assessing the impact fighter jet contracts have on his country’s economy.

Most Read