Tech and civil liberties groups are pushing back on a California “kill switch” bill that they warn could be used to silence protests like the ones seen this week in Ferguson, Mo.

Critics say a California bill passed on Monday contains a dangerous carve-out that could give law enforcement the power to shut down cellphones during emergency situations, possibly including public demonstrations.

The California bill is aimed at curbing cellphone theft by requiring all smartphones sold in the state — home to 37 million people — to come equipped with a feature that allows users to remotely wipe their personal data and make the devices inoperable.

It requires that the “kill switches” be turned on by default, though a user can opt out of using the tool.

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