SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Officials in California have announced proposed legislation requiring smartphones to have a built-in “kill switch” to render stolen or lost devices inoperable.
State Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and others said Friday the bill would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the anti-theft devices starting next year.
They believe the bill that Leno plans to introduce this spring would be the first of its kind in the United States.
The wireless industry says a kill switch could allow hackers to disable phones belonging to individuals along with government and law enforcement agencies.
The industry launched a national stolen phones database in November.
“With robberies of smartphones reaching an all-time high, California cannot continue to stand by when a solution to the problem is readily available,” Leno said in a statement.
Almost 1 in 3 U.S. robberies involve phone theft, the FCC said. Lost and stolen mobile devices — mostly smartphones — cost consumers more than $30 billion in 2012, according to an FCC study.
In San Francisco alone, more than 50 percent of all robberies involve the theft of a mobile device, the San Francisco District Attorney’s office said.
“This legislation will require the industry to stop debating the possibility of implementing existing technological theft solutions, and begin embracing the inevitability,” Gascon said in a statement. “The wireless industry must take action to end the victimization of its customers.”