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Kill switch proposals finally force wireless industry's hand

Philip Michaels | April 21, 2014
Good news: You're finally going to be getting that theft-deterring kill switch as a standard feature on your mobile device.

"By working together with policymakers, law enforcement and consumers, we will deter theft and protect users' personal information on smartphones," CTIA's Largent said, likely as he closed the barn doors before anyone noticed that the cows had vamoosed. 

To be fair to the CTIA, its newfound support for the kill switch garnered praise from some lawmakers, including the author of that Minnesota proposal. The state senator pushing California's kill-switch legislation took a decidedly more critical tone, though, noting that the wireless industry's pledge would require consumers to either download or activate kill switch features on their own. Some kill switch advocates want the feature turned on by default if it's to have any impact.

"[Tuesday's] opt-in' proposal misses the mark if the ultimate goal is to combat street crime and violent thefts involving smartphones and tablets," said Mark Leno, the California Democrat pushing kill-switch legislation in that state (which would require phones to have a kill switch in place by the start of 2015, not midway through the year like the industry would prefer).

And there's the rub. Hardware makers and carriers can make whatever pledges they care to about kill switch features. But they're going to still have convince the people pushing for mandated kill switches that their proposal goes far enough.


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