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  • Federal Bill Proposes a Requirement for All Smartphones to have a "Kill Switch"


    After last week’s introduction of a California State bill that would require all cellular phones sold in the state to include antitheft technology, four senators recently introduced The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, which is a similar federal bill that would mandate the inclusion of such a “kill switch” in all smartphones sold across the country. The bill would require smartphones to be equipped with both a kill switch to make a lost or stolen device inoperable and a system allowing consumers to remotely wipe their personal data. The following was mentioned regarding the matter:

    This legislation will help put consumers in control of their cell phone data through a 'kill switch' to immediately disable a stolen phone. Victims of cell phone theft should be able to fight back so they aren't victimized again through data and identity theft. And thieves should know that whenever they steal a cell phone, they won't be able to use it or sell it.
    The bill was introduced by US Senators Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Blumenthal and Mazie Hirono. The act is also supported by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who have both been highly vocal about decreasing smartphone theft through a kill switch system built into smartphones. As with the California bill, it is likely that Apple’s Activation Lock, which was introduced alongside iOS 7, satisfies the listed requirements. Activation Lock effectively disables a stolen smartphone by preventing it from being wiped and reactivated without an Apple ID and password. Apple’s Find My iPhone also allows for devices to be remotely wiped and locked.

    The cellular industry group (CTIA) has already spoken out against the newly introduced legislation, calling on lawmakers to criminalize tampering with mobile device identifiers rather than requiring cell phone manufacturers to build kill switches into their devices. The following was mentioned regarding the matter:

    Rather than impose technology mandates, a better approach would be to enact Senator Schumer's legislation to criminalize tampering with mobile device identifiers. This would build on the industry's efforts to create the stolen device databases, give law enforcement another tool to combat criminal behavior, and leave carriers, manufacturers, and software developers free to create new, innovative loss and theft prevention tools for consumers who want them.
    For those of you that didn’t know, the CTIA has long opposed kill switches and instead supports a nationwide database of stolen phones as an alternative solution. Although a database of stolen phones was created in cooperation with the four major US carriers in 2012, it is said to be largely useless in doing its job in most cases.

    We’ll have to see what happens with the bill going forward. What is your opinion on the matter?

    Source: Klobuchar via Re/code
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Federal Bill Proposes a Requirement for All Smartphones to have a "Kill Switch" started by Akshay Masand View original post
    Comments 19 Comments
    1. Villebilly's Avatar
      Villebilly -
      We criminalize changing identifiers (VINs) on cars and we should on phones as well. Why not have law enforcement actually go after and punish those who are doing the stealing?
      It seems like the governments approach is to mandate things like this (which will always have a work around) so they don't have to get off their butts and go after the thieves.
    1. MuhNamesTyler's Avatar
      MuhNamesTyler -
      Well at least they're doing something I guess
    1. exNavy's Avatar
      exNavy -
      There are far greater problems in this nation, and this is the kind of legislation our "leaders" are concerning themselves with? R I D I C U L O U S. We already have laws against theft. So once again we make it harder on Joe Law Abiding Citizen.
    1. quidam_brujah's Avatar
      quidam_brujah -
      Quote Originally Posted by Villebilly View Post
      We criminalize changing identifiers (VINs) on cars and we should on phones as well. Why not have law enforcement actually go after and punish those who are doing the stealing?
      It seems like the governments approach is to mandate things like this (which will always have a work around) so they don't have to get off their butts and go after the thieves.
      It's a nice idea but, cops don't have the resources to go after something the size of an iphone with a ~$300 value.
      Of course, we could raise taxes to pay for more cops but, with everyone ******** about taxes (even though rates are at generational lows and, due to income inequality gaps the upper third is the one that would have to take the biggest hit on taxes since they can afford it) that's not likely.

      So, yeah, probably aint gonna happen.

      The real problem is the whole system. This law doesn't do the obvious and force the use of CEIR on US carriers. While not perfect due to the lack of IMEI authentication, it is a start. Next step would be IMEI authentication, as is done with IMSI on the SIM cards. The obvious solution is to reduce or eliminate the value of a stolen phone. If it can't be operated on the system, it has little value. If the carriers refuse to do that, they are in effect, contributing to a criminal enterprise and are subject to prosecution [not likely]. If a stolen phone can't be used on the network the only value is for parts. That would still cut the value substantially.
    1. kosher1's Avatar
      kosher1 -
      Good luck!
    1. slim.jim's Avatar
      slim.jim -
      Quote Originally Posted by exNavy View Post
      There are far greater problems in this nation, and this is the kind of legislation our "leaders" are concerning themselves with? R I D I C U L O U S. We already have laws against theft. So once again we make it harder on Joe Law Abiding Citizen.
      Politicians don't want their photos getting out like Anthony Weiner.
    1. dsg's Avatar
      dsg -
      The kill switch should only be able to be used by the owner of the phone

      I'm still against the idea of one, as it could be miss used by someone playing a very bad prank or some hacker that gains access to it.

      I don't want the government deciding that it safer for them to have full control over a killswitch that would ruin my expensive device, if used wrongly
    1. bigboyz's Avatar
      bigboyz -
      That is the game being played. More control over the ones NOT committing crimes and less control over those that actually commit them. Yes, far great issues such as rising health costs, hunger, lack of decent paying jobs, education and lack there of, teachers going on strike due to low wages, environmental issues...the list goes on. But for now, cell phone theft is most important :]
    1. Abbaroc's Avatar
      Abbaroc -
      How is this in any way shape or form bad for the public? Smart phone thefts are on the rise and a real epidemic. These devices cost anywhere from 50-1500 dollars. Let's not forget that modern smart phones are a new thing and for something to see legislation this fast is amazing. It's almost how when legislation had to change to make room for the car and make licenses and roads etc etc. granted it's not that deep, but it's still a good thing. My question is whether the government will now allow android and windows phones to copy the activation bylock on ios devices Scott free. I'm not sure if they've patented it. But knowing apple they've tried or it's in the works.
    1. trevorrawson's Avatar
      trevorrawson -
      Why should big brother once again tell people what they should and should not do? If one company wants to create a kill switch as an added feature then let them. If people really desire it that badly then they will buy that phone and other companies will see there is a market for it.

      Leave it to California to put their noses once again where they don't belong. I live in this state and the first opportunity I get to move out I will. Problem is they keep taking my money from me and giving it to those greedy enough to take it without working for it themselves.
    1. XweAponX's Avatar
      XweAponX -
      This whole endeavor is pointless, worthless and it is just more restrictive CACK imposed on US, who will be the victims of it- I don't want the government to be able to shut off any computer or device I own, the possibility of governmental abuse with this idea is too high.
    1. tridley68's Avatar
      tridley68 -
      Quote Originally Posted by slim.jim View Post
      Politicians don't want their photos getting out like Anthony Weiner.
      so this is the kind of crap we pay our politicians to do no wonder the country is in the mess it is today
      politicians are like dipers they should be changed and often.
    1. BrainSmashR's Avatar
      BrainSmashR -
      Pretty tired of these assholes requiring me to do ****...how about an app that I can CHOOSE to utilize, fuckface.
    1. holyshnikes's Avatar
      holyshnikes -
      It's not going to stop people from stealing phones. There are advanced systems on cars and people still steal them all the time. All its going to do is cause someone to get their information erased off their phone and the thief to get mad at the phone they can't use and trash it.

      We should have something to stop the theft of cell phones, but I don't think this is the answer. My thought is make it a more punishable crime. You're not just stealing a $300 cell phone anymore. You're stealing a lot of personal information as well. There should be a hefty penalty for this. Jail time and large fines to start. Make the theft not worth it in the eyes of the thief.
    1. Raptor2213's Avatar
      Raptor2213 -
      If I was an established smartphone manufacturer, and this passed, I'd just stop selling in that state and watch the fireworks.
    1. mwhite67's Avatar
      mwhite67 -
      This is really so the man can silence us at will when the revolution comes.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      It sounds like these politicians want a way to erase their smartphone in case it gets stolen so that the thief won't leak pics or messages of their secret lovers and other bad things they're doing
    1. fowlerd11's Avatar
      fowlerd11 -
      Just what I want. A way for big brother to kill my phone. If this is required on every phone, that makes it really easy for the government to shut down the nation's phones all at once. We're practically a police state now.
    1. WHUDS's Avatar
      WHUDS -
      Stupid waste of time, focus on violent crime more ( my phone has never killed anyone and I wont die without it )