Megan Boken was chatting with her mom on her new iPhone on August 18, 2012, when a thief shot her dead on the street in St. Louis, Mo. He wanted the 23-year-old’s smartphone.
A new law signed in California this week is designed to eliminate the incentive for smartphone-related crimes like the one that killed Boken. The law requires all cellphones sold in the state to come with a “kill switch” that allows phones to be remotely disabled, rendering them useless to thieves.
Since there’s little point in making only smartphones in California comply with the new law, the legislation likely will push the wireless industry to adopt kill switches as a default feature on all phones in the United States and worldwide.
Most major smartphone manufacturers and cellular providers in the United States already are moving in that direction, with Apple, Google, Microsoft and others announcing their intention to equip all phones built after July 2015 with anti-theft software, at no cost to consumers.