“Kill switch” technology may reduce phone thefts

Report of theft are increasing. A cell phone kill switch might help reduce the number of crimes on campus. ( Photo by Nathaniel Y. Downes)
Report of theft are increasing. A cell phone kill switch might help reduce the number of crimes on campus. (Photo by Nathaniel Y. Downes)

 

By Samantha Dennis

The Guardsman


Smartphone theft at City College may see a decline due to a new bill Gov. Jerry Brown signed requiring all smartphones sold in California to be equipped with “kill switch” technology.

As of July 2015, all smartphones sold in California will be required to have this technology.

The kill switch feature allows smartphone owners to disable the phone and completely erase any data on it.

Brown signed this measure with hopes of cracking down on smartphone theft.

Senate Bill 962 was prompted by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, due to the alarming rate of cellphone theft.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gasćon sponsored the bill.

According to a Consumer Reports survey, over 3.1 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft in 2013. This is double the amount in 2012 that sat at 1.6 million.

City College campus police report that most of the thefts that occur on campus and in the surrounding areas deal with computers and cellphones.

During the 2014 Spring semester 30 different theft-related cases were reported. However, many cases go unreported.

City College student Joanna Soto had her phone taken on campus last semester in Rosenberg Library but did not report it because she didn’t believe it would make a difference and figured her phone was already long gone.

“I think the kill switch bill is a good idea,” Soto said. “I think it will stop people from stealing phones because they won’t be able to get any use out of them or resell them.”

The kill switch technology will come as a default setting in all phones sold in California but users may choose to opt out if they would like although they are encouraged not to.

Section 1 of SB 962 states, “According to the Federal Communications Commission, smartphone thefts now account for 30 to 40 percent of robberies in many major cities across the country. Many of these robberies often turn violent with some resulting in the loss of life.”

It also states, “The Legislature finds and declares that the enactment of a uniform policy to deter thefts of smartphones and to protect the privacy of smartphone users if their smartphones are involuntarily acquired by others is a matter of statewide concern … ”

It is only a matter of time until California becomes a precedent for other states to pass a similar law and have the technology in place around the country.

 

 

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