STATE SENATE | PUBLIC SAFETY | The push for smartphone kill-switches got a reprieve Thursday when the State Senate passed a bill mandating the inclusion of the disabling software on all cell phones sold in California. The same bill, authored by San Francisco State Sen. Mark Leno, was narrowly defeated two weeks ago, but now heads to the Assembly for consideration.
Supporters of the kill-switch technology, designed to dissuade robbers from stealing cell phones, were critical of the April 24 vote and blamed intense lobbying from telecom corporations for defeating the bill.
The issue has strong connections to Oakland, where the quickly-rising number of robberies were due to cell phone thefts. Leno’s bill would only cover smartphones and not other devices such as tablet computers.
Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb introduced a resolution in March supporting Leno’s bill and has led the push in Oakland. “The State Senate went to school and wised up on smartphones today,” said Kalb in a statement following passage of SB 962. Two weeks ago, Kalb, angered by the previous vote, said the State Senate “did a stupid thing.”
Oakland Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan, also a supporter of the bill said, “Criminals need to know that there’s no point in stealing someone’s phone, because it won’t work – and it won’t be worth anything on the black market.” She added, “Let’s be clear: this legislation will reduce violent crime in Oakland and beyond.”