Fully Charged: California's Smartphone ‘Kill Switch' Law Takes Effect

Effective Wednesday, newly-purchased smartphones in California will be required to come pre-equipped with theft-deterrent technology.

This technology allows for a “kill switch” to be enabled in consumers’ smartphones unless they intentionally opt out. In the event that the phone gets stolen, cell phone providers have the ability to instantly shut off or “kill” access to the phone.

This smartphone theft law is the first of its kind and could set a precedent for other states to follow. The state district attorney’s office has reported that many industry leaders will not be making California-specific smartphones, meaning that all the smartphones sold by major companies nationwide will have the same theft-deterrent capability.

Technology like this has existed for quite some time, but it has only now become law.

“California has led the nation in protecting consumers against the epidemic of smartphone theft, and our efforts are already paying off,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Recent reports show that smartphone thefts are already on the decline as more new phones come equipped with kill switches. The incentive to steal smartphones, which had become a trigger for violent street crime in many of our largest cities, is rapidly dwindling.”

A study conducted by consumerreports.org found that smartphone theft was down from 3.1 million in 2013 to 2.1 million in 2014. With California’s historic new law in place, that number is likely to decrease at an even more rapid rate while simultaneously increasing public safety.

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