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Kill switch bill: Calif. lawmakers push for anti-theft smartphone 'kill switch'

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A “kill switch” bill proposed by California lawmakers was introduced yesterday to the state Senate, reports MSN Money on Friday. The legislation is designed to deter smartphone and tablet robberies – which now account for one out of every three thefts in the U.S.

State Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner co-authored the bill, which asks that all smartphones and tablets sold in their state, starting in 2015, have software that would completely disable the device if stolen.

Leno called on the wireless industry to step up their security and deal with the surging issue of smartphone robberies.

“They have a choice. They can either be a part of the problem or part of the solution, especially when there is one readily available,” Leno said.

In June, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who together led the “Secure our Smartphone” initiative, said they were talking to some of the major players in wireless, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung Electronics.

Recently, Apple rolled out an application lock iOS7 software that effectively “bricks up” a phone, and prevents a thief from reactivating the phone even if the memory is wiped, absent having the owner’s Apple ID and password.

For the most part however, wireless carriers have thus far rejected the kill switch idea, leading to some harsh criticism from regulators.

According to MSN, risks of installing kill switch software include “potential vulnerability to hackers who could disable mobile devices and lock out not only individuals' phones but also phones used by entities such as the Department of Defense, Homeland Security and law enforcement.”

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