Federal Bill Would Mandate Anti-Theft 'Kill Switch' in All Smartphones

MacRumors

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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Following last week's introduction of a California State bill that would require all cellular phones sold in the state to include antitheft technology, four senators have today introduced (via Re/code) The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act, a similar federal bill that would mandate the inclusion of such a "kill switch" in all smartphones sold across the country.

The bill would require smartphones to be equipped with both a kill switch to make a lost or stolen device inoperable and a system allowing consumers to remotely wipe their personal data.
"This legislation will help put consumers in control of their cell phone data through a 'kill switch' to immediately disable a stolen phone. Victims of cell phone theft should be able to fight back so they aren't victimized again through data and identity theft. And thieves should know that whenever they steal a cell phone, they won't be able to use it or sell it."
Introduced by U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar, Barbara Mikulski, Richard Blumenthal, and Mazie Hirono, the act is also supported by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón, who have both been highly vocal about decreasing smartphone theft through a kill switch system built into smartphones.

As with the California bill, it is likely that Apple's Activation Lock, introduced alongside iOS 7, satisfies the listed requirements. Activation Lock effectively disables a stolen smartphone by preventing it from being wiped and reactivated without an Apple ID and password. Apple's Find My iPhone also allows for devices to be remotely wiped and locked.

Cellular industry group CTIA has already spoken out against the newly introduced legislation, calling on lawmakers to criminalize tampering with mobile device identifiers rather than requiring cell phone manufacturers to build kill switches into their devices.
"Rather than impose technology mandates, a better approach would be to enact Senator Schumer's legislation to criminalize tampering with mobile device identifiers. This would build on the industry's efforts to create the stolen device databases, give law enforcement another tool to combat criminal behavior, and leave carriers, manufacturers, and software developers free to create new, innovative loss and theft prevention tools for consumers who want them."
The CTIA has long opposed kill switches and instead supports a nationwide database of stolen phones as an alternative solution. Though a database of stolen phones was created in cooperation with the four major U.S. carriers in 2012, it is said to be largely ineffectual.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread has been moved to our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: Federal Bill Would Mandate Anti-Theft 'Kill Switch' in All Smartphones
 

Flood123

macrumors 6502a
Mar 28, 2009
623
52
Living Stateside
This "kill switch" will not stop theft. People will still nick phones and sell them for parts. Pointless legislation. A waste of time and money to push this through.
 

M!M!C

macrumors member
Dec 23, 2008
40
0
SoCal
Stop mandating stuff!

Stay outta my life US Government!
Like CA and the Fed does not have more important things to worry about??? In CA, we are $Billions in debt and the Fed is $Trillions in debt and we are worried about cell phone theft?

What a joke!

But not as bad as Earwax research!
 

nzalog

macrumors 6502
Jul 25, 2012
274
2
This "kill switch" will not stop theft. People will still nick phones and sell them for parts. Pointless legislation. A waste of time and money to push this through.
Uhu.. just how iOS 7 just lowered the price of stolen phones from ~$500-700 on eBay down to about ~$150-250. So pointless.. doesn't lower incentive at all...
 

koban4max

macrumors 68000
Aug 23, 2011
1,579
0
if i knew (from the future) that our country is beyond stupid....I would have aborted myself when I was a fetus.
 

Nunyabinez

macrumors 68000
Apr 27, 2010
1,758
2,198
Provo, UT
My friend had her iPhone stolen yesterday, and she immediately put it into lost mode.

It will keep them from re-selling it, but I doubt they are going to find her and return her phone.

Most criminals are too stupid to realize that they won't be able to sell the phone before they steal it.

And people who steal phones to feed a drug habit typically don't care how much they get for something, so if it turns out it's only worth $20, that's $20 towards their next fix.
 

bwillwall

macrumors 6502a
Dec 24, 2009
746
282
There has to be a better way than making the devices rendered useless. It already concerns me that Find My iPhone could do that. For example if somebody died and their family member acquired their iDevice, it would be a pain for them to restore it, if there is even a way.
 
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Max(IT)

Suspended
Dec 8, 2009
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Italy
Oooopsss .... Apple incidentally again ahead of every other brand in introducing something really useful and not a gimmick "innovation".
 

musika

macrumors 65816
Sep 2, 2010
1,279
438
New York
Uhu.. just how iOS 7 just lowered the price of stolen phones from ~$500-700 on eBay down to about ~$150-250. So pointless.. doesn't lower incentive at all...
I think you seriously misunderstood that post.

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if i knew (from the future) that our country is beyond stupid....I would have aborted myself when I was a fetus.
Well, then. That's nice.
 

Max(IT)

Suspended
Dec 8, 2009
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Italy
There has to be a better way than making the devices rendered useless. It already concerns me that Find My iPhone could do that. For example if somebody died and their family member acquired their iDevice, it would be a pain for them to restore it, if there is even a way.
If somebody died, family members have something more important than an iDevice to think about .....
 

globalhemp

macrumors regular
Jan 2, 2006
118
5
United States
Kill Switch for Telemarketers

How about a kill switch for Telemarketers who spoof their numbers, call constantly, call a number that's listed on the FCC's "Do NOT Call list?

Really simple button: Add to Blacklist...

...and automatically report the caller to FCC with:

  • Telephone Number Called
  • Timestamp
  • Telephone Number that called (anti-spoofed)

Currently, ... you have to do this manually with the clunky FCC DoNotCall.gov website.

Currently, there is a SASS -- http://www.trapcall.com/ -- that de-masks "Caller Unknown" to "312-555-1234" since Apple will not allow for a Blacklisting app. Far too many telemarketers have started spoofing numbers to cut-down on people accurately reporting their annoying calls.
 

iSRS

macrumors 6502
Mar 2, 2010
422
180
All other good points previously posted on this thread, what disturbs me most is this.

"Cellular industry group CTIA has already spoken out against the newly introduced legislation, calling on lawmakers to criminalize tampering with mobile device identifiers rather than requiring cell phone manufacturers to build kill switches into their devices."

Ok, so let's not find way to let end users control their data, but let's add an additional law to criminalize an activity that a person, let's call them, oh, I don't know, a criminal, would also be subject to if caught. You know, I think it might work. All those criminals stealing phones will certainly abide by the law to not change the device identifier.

Seriously, who makes this stuff up?
 

jclardy

macrumors 68040
Oct 6, 2008
3,398
1,947
This "kill switch" will not stop theft. People will still nick phones and sell them for parts. Pointless legislation. A waste of time and money to push this through.
I am sure it will reduce it - you are talking about a ~$400 profit per device down to around $100/device (Pretty much the screen and battery are the only worthwhile components in the repair market), plus involving more work in selling the device. Given the penalty is the same, then the risk will be too high for most people just trying to make a quick buck.