California Gov. Jerry Brown Takes Steps to Prevent Phone Theft
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday signed a bill into law that will require all smartphones sold in the state to be equipped with better security technology in order to reduce phone theft.
The law specifically will require what is known as a kill switch, a mechanism phone owners could use after a phone is stolen to make that phone useless, according to The New York Times.
The bill was introduced by California Sen. Mark Leno and sponsored by San Francisco DA George Gascon. California will require phones to have a kill switch starting in July 2015.
Supporters of the new law say the kill switch function will deter phone theft because thieves will find it difficult to resell a phone that doesn't work. The kill switch wouldn't make a phone permanently useless, but would require a password or personal identification number before it could resume normal function.
"Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities," Leno said in a statement.
California is the second state to require kill switch technology on all smartphones, after Minnesota passed a similar measure in May. The California law is different because it required smartphone makers to have the kill switch turned on as a default setting, according to PC World.
Smartphone thefts nearly doubled across the country in 2013, up to 3.1 million devices reported stolen from 1.6 million stolen in 2012. That number is thought to be a conservative estimate. San Francisco saw a 23 percent increase in phone thefts, while New York and Washington saw a similar trend.
"Soon, stealing a smartphone won't be worth the trouble, and these violent street crimes will be a thing of the past," Gascon said in a statement. "The devices we use every day will no longer make us targets for violent criminals."
Some opponents of the security measure have said that such mandates hurt smartphone innovation.
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