A smartphone killswitch is the beacon of hope for lawmakers and law enforcers. When activated, it would prevent a smartphone from being used once stolen or lost, which would deter phone thieves and the violent crimes that phone theft have been inducing.
Unfortunately, the killswitch has been met with a lot of resistance from cellular carriers who have little to profit from protecting phones from being stolen, but that resistance might be futile if San Francisco’s Attorney General, George Gascon gets his way this January when state Senator Mark Leno will introduce a bill mandating kill switches for all new smartphones in California.
In 2012, phone theft accounted for $30 billion in stolen goods for consumers. In a press statement about the legislation, the Senator stressed the need to stop the growth in violent crimes associated with phone theft:
One of the top catalysts for street crime in many California cities is smartphone theft, and these crimes are becoming increasingly violent. We cannot continue to ignore our ability to utilize existing technology to stop cell phone thieves in their tracks. It is time to act on this serious public safety threat to our communities.
San Franciscans are especially prone to the violence – 50% of the city’s violent crimes are marked by the theft of mobile devices. While California may be the only state exploring the killswitch law, it would also populate the rest of the states with the same technology since it is easier to produce the same model for all US consumers.