A bill introduced by California Senator Mark Leno was approved by the Senate Energy Utilities & Communications Committee yesterday. If passed, it would be the first of its kind in the nation. It would require cell phone and tablet manufacturers to include a “kill switch” in portable devices, which would enable consumers to remotely deactivate their devices if lost or stolen. This would cut down on the loss of personal data. It might also deter the theft and robbery of smart phones, which has reached epic proportions in places like San Francisco and Oakland, because thieves would soon find that the portable electronic devices they steal are useless.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon favors the legislation, as do San Francisco Police Chief Gregory Suhr and Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent.
Although the purpose of the legislation is to empower crime victims, it might also help criminal defendants. When the police seize a cell phone, what is to stop the person under investigation from disabling the device using the kill switch?