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California State Senate passes kill switch bill

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After a long, hard fought battle California State Sen. Mark Leno (D-SanFrancisco) rejoiced that the “kill switch” bill to render cell phones inoperable if stolen was passed with a vote of 26-8 on Thursday, reports the L.A. Times today.

The bill presented by Leno previously failed because it included tablets, which were omitted from this bill and prevent any further delays. A mandatory date from Jan. 15 to July 15 will require newly made phones sold in California to provide this option.

A fine of $2500 will be placed against retailers who fail to provide this phone for sale in their store. Some Republicans who voted against the bill claimed that phones shipped in from other locations not meeting the requirement would hold the retailer libel.

The bill moves on to the Assembly for final passage. It has been hotly contested by CITA, the association for the industry.The reason is the same because of the burden it places upon retailers to insure that the cell phones sold in their store carry this feature.

The debate has been centered on the insurance costs that retailer providers can charge for the insurance of stolen phones. The reason that carriers are reluctant to provide the mandatory feature is the fear of losing the insurance fees attached to their monthly program menu. It is a $2.5 billion annual cost for phone replacement and insurance premiums.

Consumer Reports show that many smartphone owners do not take the extra step to protecting their device which is made available on smartphones. The use of PIN codes for access and apps for tracking do not get installed by owners.

"We have a crime wave sweeping our state," Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) cautioned his colleagues before the vote. "We are trying to keep our constituents safe on their streets and in their neighborhoods."

The number of thefts reported by Consumer Reports show that 3.1 million cell phones were reported stolen last year. Thefts have arisen 26 percent in Los Angeles in 2013. San Francisco district attorney and former police chief George Gascón has cited the 23 percent of thefts involved cell phones in San Francisco last year.

The theft of cell phones has risen to epidemic proportion. Legislation and technology can curb the abuse and relentless rise in cell phone thefts, which has been strongly supported by law enforcement officials. New York City has a "kill switch " bill in process.

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