Members of the U.S. Congress are working on legislation that would mandate the addition of a "kill switch" for all smartphones purchased in the United States (U.S.).

Titled "The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act," U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) introduced legislation that would mandate smartphones to have a "kill switch" in order to protect consumers and combat theft.

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), approximately one-in-three robberies include the theft of a mobile phone and criminals targeting smartphones for its resale value or opportunity to obtain financial information of the victim.

"Cell phone theft has become a big business for thieves looking to cash in on these devices and any valuable information they contain, costing consumers more than $30 billion every year and endangering countless theft victims," said Sen. Klobuchar. "This legislation will help eliminate the incentives for criminals to target smartphones by empowering victims to take steps to keep their information private, protect their identity and finances, and render the phone inoperable to the thieves."

The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act has garnered the support from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who are founders of the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative.

"For the past eight months, the Secure Our Smartphone Initiative has been challenging carriers and manufacturers to install technology to end the epidemic of violent smartphone thefts plaguing our communities," said New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "I applaud Senator Klobuchar for taking the lead in introducing federal legislation that would require the industry to stop dragging its feet and join us in protecting consumers. Senator Klobuchar's bold action to change the way the smartphone industry does business will help make our communities safer and help save lives."

With the legislation, the victims of cell phone theft will have the decision to maintain their private information by deleting such data, thus, rendering the phone useless to thieves.

Sen. Hirono noted, "It has been very troubling to see the rise in smartphone thefts across the nation, particularly since these crimes can be violent."

Sen. Blumenthal added, "Consumers whose cell phones are lost or stolen should be able to remotely make the devices inoperable and delete personal information from them at a moment's notice and at no extra cost."

The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act acknowledges that the "kill switch" technology should be offered free of charge to the consumer and prevent anyone from activating the smartphone except for the original owner.

As Latin Post reported, a similar piece of legislation was introduced in California. The Californian version of the bill, introduced by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), and sponsored by Gascón, would impose fines of up to $2,500 for each mobile phone sold by companies without a "kill switch" preinstalled regardless of the operating system. If the Californian bill is passed, it could go in effect January 2015.


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