News Column

State: Legislation aims to have "kill switch" mandatory on new cell phones by 2015

February 7, 2014

By Malaika Fraley, Contra Costa Times



Feb. 07--SAN FRANCISCO -- Bay Area civic leaders joined Friday to announce pioneering legislation that would require all cell phones and tablets sold in California to have a "kill switch" by 2015 to render the devices useless to thieves.

Smartphone and tablet robberies have become an epidemic across the nation and particularly in the Bay Area, accounting for more than 50 percent of all robberies in San Francisco and 60 about percent in Oakland. Senate Bill 962, introduced by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, calls for pre-equipped theft-deterring technology on mobile devices to protect consumers by taking away the thieves' incentive to steal.

"This is a crime of convenience. We end the convenience, we end the crimes, it's that simple," Leno said.

The technology is already here -- Australia has been requiring it on its phones since 2003 -- but the mobile industry in the United States has been fighting it while it makes about $7.8 billion on theft and loss insurance products annually, officials said.

"This policy will save lives," Oakland Mayor Jean Quan said. "We need to stand up to an industry that thinks this isn't important."

Campaigning for the bill is Paul Boken, whose 23-year-old daughter Megan Boken was shot and killed during a cell phone robbery in St. Louis in 2012.

"Megan Boken did not need to be killed for a cell phone," said San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. "Unfortunately, Megan's case is not unique. Just yesterday, someone was shot in Dallas."

Check back later for a complete story.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.

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(c)2014 the Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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Source: Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, CA)


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