California Wants To Add A Stupid Kill Switch To Your Phone

Senior Contributor
02.07.14 15 Comments

iphone kill switch

It’s true that California is no stranger to smartphone stupidity, but a new law they’re trying to pass would take the cake. It would require every tablet and phone in the state of California to come with a hard-coded “kill switch” so that when your phone is stolen, you just kill it and buy a new one. Yes, they would rather you buy a new phone than pay police to do their jobs.

The logic behind this, such as it is, is that if you can lock up your phone from a distance, they will be less valuable to thieves. You know, because criminals are possessed of such incredible foresight, hence their chosen career.

If this sounds familiar, that’s because New York tried to intimidate wireless carriers into accepting the idea. But California has a novel solution to this whole problem of people who understand these things refusing to do it because of the glaring and obvious problems. According to CNET, they’ll just pass a law and make them do it anyway!

The wireless carriers, in particular, rejected the idea, leading to some criticism from regulators. Schneiderman said he sent a letter to the heads of the five largest carriers in the US.
Instead, regulators are hoping to get around the resistance by passing a bill mandating the change. The bill has the support of officials from San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Oakland.

If the law passes, which is thankfully not a sure thing, then essentially it would put this kill switch onto every single phone sold in the US. California is an enormous market and there’s simply too much money involved in making a California phone and a smartphone for everyone else.

As we broke down before, this is a bad law because it shifts the burden of stopping theft off of the people we pay to actually do it and onto the consumer, and it creates enormous security vulnerabilities while opening a new frontier in oppressing civil rights. There’s no provision in this law that requires anybody to buy the consumer a new phone. Basically, this law boils down to “Finding your phone is hard. We don’t wanna. Just buy a new one.”

On the other hand, we’re sure your wireless carrier will be enormously excited to talk about the new, $20 a month insurance plans they’re likely putting in place if this law passes. So hey, everybody wins! Except us!

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