Although it didn't pass a few weeks ago, California State Senate has come through in its battle to have smartphones equipped with antitheft protections that allow users to lock the phone if stolen. Sponsored by Senator Mark Leno, the bill aims to reduce the growing number of smartphone robberies across the state.
The bill, SB962, which had the support of San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, calls on all phone manufacturers, including Apple and Samsung, beginning July 1, to have "kill switch" technology implemented in the phones to deter others from attempting to steal the device.
In San Francisco alone, through April, the city has seen around 67 percent of all robberies a result of smartphones. The bill, which lost out by two votes on April 24, now must go through the California House before heading to Governor Jerry Brown's desk for final approval.
"We're one step closer to ending the violence and victimization that far too many people have been subjected to. California truly has an opportunity to lead the way and end this public safety crisis, the potential to end this global epidemic is very real," Gascon said in a statement from his office.
Those who voiced concern over the bill said it would require smartphone makers and retailers to take up much of the change and financial cost, which some lawmakers said would be bad for business by adding an extra feature required by law.
Leno, ahead of the vote, showed confidence that his bill would finally get the push needed to pass the Senate, despite industry calls against passing the legislation.
"We have to get into the minds of these criminals and convince them that the crime is not worth their while," he told reporters. He had first proposed the idea in late 2013.
The Wireless Lobby led by the CTIA has also admonished the move [pdf], saying that there already exist a number of anti-theft features that phones have and that by adding another one required by law would increase production cost. They warned this would result in more expensive devices for the customer.
Still, Leno and others say that by adding a "kill switch" to all devices, it would deter crimes from happening if criminals knew they would not be able to use the phone shortly after the theft.
Despite the controversy and the hankering of the wireless world over the matter, the bill finally has received enough votes to move onto the next stage in the fight for a "kill switch" and tougher action on potential criminals.