Turning to technology to deter thieves, California became the first state in the country on Monday to require “kill switches” on new smartphones.
Gov. Jerry Brown signed the legislation, capping a long, contentious struggle in which California lawmakers and police went toe-to-toe with the smartphone industry over how best to curb an epidemic of thefts plaguing the Golden State.
The action came as Sacramento shifted into legislative overdrive Monday, with lawmakers starting to vote on hundreds of bills in the final week of their session. Among the highlights: A controversial ban on plastic grocery bags failed in an Assembly vote but is expected to get one more chance later this week. The Assembly did approve “Audrie’s Law,” a South Bay senator’s bid to tighten juvenile sexual assault laws.
The new phone law requires that all those manufactured after July 1, 2015, and sold in California have anti-theft security features that would render stolen devices inoperable — a “kill switch” for remote deactivation. Such technology exists, but phone owners must choose it; the new law requires it to be standard on all phones, and owners can opt out if they wish.