California Passes ‘Kill Switch’ Bill To Stop Smartphone Theft

August 27, 2014  |  

Smart phone thefts jumped to 3.1 million last year, according to Consumer Reports. But cell phone thefts just got harder in California. Governor Jerry Brown has signed into a law requiring smartphones to be equipped with the so-called “kill switch.” Kill switches render smartphones useless if they have been lost or stolen. In the state, smartphone theft comprises more than half of all crimes.

“The bill would be the strongest attempt yet by a U.S. state to fight smartphone theft, which accounts for more than half of crimes in several of the state’s large cities,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

Senate Bill 962 states that all smartphones sold in California after July 2015 must come pre-equipped with technology that lets them to be shut down remotely in the event of theft.

“Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities,” said Democratic state Senator Mark Leno, the bill’s author.

Other states may follow California’s lead. Minnesota passed a similar theft-prevention law in May but California’s is more encompassing as it requires manufacturers to notify consumers that the technology is available on their phones. Some phones already have kill switches, so check yours. “Google, Microsoft and Apple have already said they will install the feature into new versions of their phone operating systems, which means that by next year, new versions of operating systems on 97 percent of the phones used in the United States will have a kill switch,” reports USA Today.

For iPhone users, first make sure you have iOS7 software. If not download it. “Go to Settings, then iCloud, and then flip on ‘Find My iPhone.’ If your phone gets lost, you’ll be able to track it on iCloud.com,” reports Time.

If it has been lost, go to iCloud.com/find and a button plays a sound on your iPhone so you can find the device. But if it has been stolen for sure, then erase the data and the only way anyone can use it is by entering your Apple ID and password.

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