New Legislation Requires Kill Switch in All Smartphones

Bratton joins coalition to pressure manufacturers to install theft protection devices in smartphones
March 3, 2014 Updated: March 3, 2014

NEW YORK—Officials announced their support of legislation requiring manufacturers to install a kill switch in smartphones Monday.

The technology would enable consumers to remotely delete data and shut down their stolen devices, deterring thieves from stealing their phones.

Bronx Congressman José Serrano, who introduced the new legislation in the House, said “it is time for smartphone carriers and manufacturers to get serious about protecting the safety and security of their customers.”

1.6 million Americans were victims of smartphones theft in 2012, according to Consumer Reports.

It comes not long after U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced a similar bill in the Senate. California State Sen. Mark Leno also recently proposed legislation that would mandate every phone sold in the state to have a kill switch from next year.

The Secure Our Smartphones (S.O.S) initiative, a coalition of law enforcement officials and consumer activists was started last summer by New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

Police Commissioner William Bratton announced he joined the initiative Monday. He said that manufacturers haven’t already installed the kill switch due to corporate greed.

Paul Bokenlost lost his 23-year-old daughter, Megan Boken, while she was speaking on the phone to her mother in St. Louis 18 months ago. Boken was shot by a thief who wanted her smartphone.

“She was talking on her smartphone, checking in with her mother,” he said.

Annie Palazzolo, Megan’s sister, said “she paid the ultimate price.”

Smartphone thefts have been dubbed “Apple Picking.” Around 8,000 Apple products were stolen in 2013 in New York.

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