First mandatory smartphone 'kill switch' law passed in the US

Minnesota has become the first US state to make it illegal to sell a smartphone without the inclusion of a “kill switch” – a piece of software that remotely disables the device in the event of theft.

The law will come into place from 1 July 2015 as a deterrent against smartphone crime, with the FCC suggesting that one in three robberies in the US involve the high-value devices.

Democratic representative Joe Atkins described the law as a “vaccine” against smartphone theft, saying “when you take away the worth, you take away the incentive. These thieves that are stealing these things no longer have the incentive to steal 'em."

Suggestions to make kill switches mandatory in the UK have also been forwarded, with London mayor Boris Johnson telling phone manufacturers last year that they need to be embrace their “corporate responsibility”.

Mr Johnson also criticized Apple and other retailers for swapping ‘broken’ handsets for new ones, a move that he claimed allowing thieves to effectively launder stolen property. The Metropolitan police estimate that as many as 10,000 smartphones are stolen every month in London alone.

However, others have argued that the introduction of legislation is unnecessary as especially as software that replicates most of a proposed ‘kill switch’s functionality is already available for every smartphone.

Apple’s ‘Find My iPhone’, Microsoft’s ‘Find My Phone’, and Google’s ‘Android Device Manager’ all allow owners to remotely track their device if it’s lost or stolen and then wipe all data. However, these apps don’t work if a thief quickly performs a factory reset or puts the stolen device into airplane mode.

Additional software is available that means smartphones require passwords or PIN codes even in the event of a factory reset (Apple’s iOS 7 has one called Activation Lock while Samsung devices have a similar Reactivation Lock) but even the recent Minnesota law doesn’t call to make this software mandatory.

It seems that progress is being slowly made to introduce stronger kill switches but that the burden of security lies mainly with the consumer – a state of affairs that isn’t likely to deter thieves.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Infrastructure Architect

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Infrastructure Architect is ...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

    £28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

    Recruitment Genius: 1st Line Support - Helpdesk Analyst

    £18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a customer focu...

    Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive

    £16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Development Executiv...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn