Richard Nieva
April 24, 2014

After a long debate on the Senate floor, California legislators narrowly rejected a bill on Thursday that would have required antitheft software to come preloaded and automatically enabled on all smartphones sold in the state.

The law, spearheaded by California State Sen. Mark Leno and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, would have mandated so-called kill switch technology, requiring smartphone makers like Apple to include software that lets users wipe clean, or remove all their data from the phone remotely. That basically renders the phone inoperable if stolen.

The problem, Leno and other government officials say, is an “epidemic.” One in every three robberies in the United States involves the theft of a mobile device, according to the Federal Communications Commission. On Gascon’s home turf of San Francisco, for example, over half of thefts involve phones or tablets. And across the bay in the city of Oakland, that number jumps up to more than 75 percent. Consumer Reports has said that about 1.6 million Americans were the victims of smartphone theft in 2012.

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