San Francisco Supe London Breed Proposes City Cell Phone Kill Switch Law

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A San Francisco supervisor proposed legislation Tuesday requiring smartphones and other mobile devices sold in the city to be equipped with a "kill switch" to render them inoperable if they're lost or stolen. Mark Matthews reports. (Published Wednesday, May 7, 2014)

    A San Francisco supervisor proposed legislation Tuesday requiring smartphones and other mobile devices sold in the city to be equipped with a ``kill switch'' to render them inoperable if they're lost or stolen.

    Supervisor London Breed's local proposal comes two days before the California state Senate is set to reconsider a bill that would require the technology for all mobile phones sold in California. Her ordinance will be similar to proposed legislation sponsored by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, that fell two votes short of passing two weeks ago.

    The bill would require mobile devices sold in or shipped to California to have the anti-theft devices starting next year. It cites a recent Consumer Reports study that about 3.1 million smartphones were stolen in the U.S. last year, nearly double the total in 2012.

    Breed said Tuesday that while she hopes Leno's measure will pass in Sacramento, she wants to ensure that San Francisco has a backup plan if it doesn't. Breed added that the need for a kill switch is crucial, citing a young woman who was struck and had her phone snatched in broad daylight in her district a few months ago.

    ``The technology already exists. It can be implemented. And its widespread adoption will reduce, if not eliminate, the value of stolen phones on the black market,'' Breed said. ``It will take away the incentive for a thief to punch a young woman in the back of the neck and snatch her phone.''

    Authorities say nearly 70 percent of all robberies in San Francisco this year have involved smartphone theft. District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have spearheaded national efforts and given manufacturers a June deadline to find solutions to curb smartphone theft.

    Last month, the CTIA-The Wireless Association, a trade group for wireless providers, said the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers have agreed to provide a free preloaded or downloadable anti-theft tool on smartphones sold in the U.S. after July 2015. It will allow owners to remotely remove a smartphone's data and prevent reactivation if a phone is stolen or lost.