A California bill has become full fledge law after being signed by California governor Jerry Brown. All smartphones sold in the state of California must now feature the anti-theft technology. Those who are lacking this must install the feature into their smartphones.
SB-962 Smartphones bill was introduced early this year and makes it mandatory for all cellular devices to have a “kill switch”. It was originally approved by the California State Assembly and thereafter, passed a final vote in the California Senate.
The law basically dictates that from this day forward, all smartphones, no matter which manufacturer, must include software and/or hardware to will make it inoperable to any unauthorized person(s) if the device is lost, stolen or misplaced. The technology is known to withstand a hard reset or operating system downgrade and works to prevent reactivation of the gadget on a wireless network except by the authorized user. The anti-theft tools must be installed during the phone’s initial setup process, and it must be reversible so an authorized user can unlock the device if it is returned to their possession.
This is California’s legal system’s attempt at trying to reduce the amount of smartphones being stolen. The law will go into full effect by July next year. It is co-sponsored by San Francisco district attorney George Gascón and state Senator Mark Leno.
While other manufacturers will be scrambling to get some sort of “kill switch” update ready to go, Apple is well ahead of the pack with its Activation Lock feature. It was this version of the “kill switch” that caught the legislators attention and led to the ultimate signing of this bill. The Activation Lock locks the device to a user’s iCloud account and is turned on when Find My iPhone is enabled. A stolen iPhone is locked down with Activation Lock. Perpetrators cannot sign out of Find My iPhone, deactivate iCloud or wipe the device without the original user’s Apple ID.
Let’s not stop there. This law may even be enforced at a nation wide level if The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act is approved. However, as of now, only the states of Minnesota and California have legislation making the anti-theft technology for smartphones compulsory. This comes after major smartphone manufacturers including Google, Samsung and Apple agreed to add anti-theft features to their devices after July 2015.