California Senate kills smartphone legislation

A bill that could have forced phone manufacturers to install mandatory kill switches in all smartphones failed to pass the California Senate Thursday.

Kill switches permit consumers to render their phones useless. The primary reason for doing so would be after the phone has been lost or stolen.

Smartphone thefts more than doubled in 2013 with 3.1 million, up from 1.4 million in 2012 according to Consumer Reports.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón — who created the legislation with Sen. Mark Leno — and other local officials campaigned for its passing.

But the bill fell two votes shy of the majority required to pass. Leno talked about how the legislation is for the phone owners:

“This technology exists, and until it is pre-enabled on every new phone purchased, consumers will continue to be the innocent victims of thieves who bank on the fact that these devices can be resold at a profit on the black market.”

Tech industry lobbying group CTIA proposed a “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment” that would allow  companies to opt in to kill switch development, rather than being forced by lawmakers.

Gascón added that the decision will only benefit large money-making corporations:

“That’s all this legislation does, it takes existing technology and makes it a standard feature on all smartphones. With their no vote, 17 members of the Senate chose to protect billion dollar industry profits over the safety of the constituents they were elected to serve.”

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