Feeds

Proposed California law demands anti-theft 'kill switch' in all smartphones

With robberies escalating, SF attorney demands deterrent tech

SANS - Survey on application security programs

California may soon become the first US state to require mobile phone makers to include a feature that can remotely disable their handsets in the event they are stolen.

A new law proposed by California state Senator Mark Leno and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón would require all smartphones sold in the state to include a remote-controllable "kill switch" as a deterrent against theft.

"One of the top catalysts for street crime in many California cities is smartphone theft, and these crimes are becoming increasingly violent," Leno said in a statement.

The issue is not a new one for Gascón, who along with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, has been crusading for greater smartphone security in light of what has been described as an epidemic of mobile phone theft.

In Gascón's home city of San Francisco, which falls within Leno's jurisdiction, more than half of all robberies now involve a smartphone, according to police statistics.

But although some phone vendors offer remote deactivation – Apple introduced Activation Lock for iPhones with the release of iOS 7, for example, to Gascón's approval – most do not, which means smartphone thieves can quickly and easily sell the devices to eager bargain-hunters.

Gascón has accused the mobile phone industry of dragging its feet on the issue, saying that although he had managed to convince smartphone titan Samsung to bundle LoJack security software with its devices, the major wireless carriers rejected the proposal, believing it would eat into their profits: fewer thefts would mean fewer sales.

Now Gascón's patience is running out. "I appreciate the efforts that many of the manufacturers are making, but the deadline we agreed upon is rapidly approaching and most do not have a technological solution in place," Gascón said.

If Leno's proposed law passes the California legislature, all new smartphones sold in the state will be required to include some form of kill switch.

Leno says he plans to formally introduce the bill in early January at the start of the 2014 legislative session. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
Edward Snowden on his Putin TV appearance: 'Why all the criticism?'
Denies Q&A cameo was meant to slam US, big-up Russia
Record labels sue Pandora over vintage song royalties
Companies want payout on recordings made before 1972
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Judge halts spread of zombie Nortel patents to Texas in Google trial
Epic Rockstar patent war to be waged in California
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.