First smartphone 'kill switch' bill in the US passed by… Minnesota

Security Phone

The Governor of Minnesota signed a new bill into law that prohibits the sale of any smartphone without anti-theft software pre-installed. The idea is to deter criminals from stealing handsets in the first place by allowing users to remotely disable and wipe a phone's data, rendering it useless. If a stolen phone is remotely disabled, there wouldn't be any monetary incentive left in the endeavour.

While the legislation does not mention the exact nature of anti-theft measures that need to be installed, it does state that all devices need to be "equipped with preloaded anti-theft functionality or be capable of downloading that functionality." Similar bills are underway in California, New York and Illinois. At the federal level, a Smartphone Theft Prevention Act bill was introduced in February, but it is still in committee.

In addition to anti-theft measures, the Minnesota legislature also states that second hand mobile devices cannot be paid for in cash, and that stores purchasing second hand devices will have to pay sellers by check, store credit or electronic transfer. Retailers as well as used phone vendors will have to keep records of all second hand device related transactions.

While individual states are taking matters into their own hands by introducing such laws, carriers and manufacturers are also undertaking measures to deter smartphone theft. Samsung, Google, Apple, and Microsoft have announced that they're committing to a CTIA "Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment," through which they'll be launching anti-theft tools that will allow users to remotely disable their devices.

The measures will be included in all handsets launched by these brands starting next year. In addition to handset manufacturers, all four major US carriers have also registered their interest in bringing anti-theft measures to consumers.

Source: The Governor of Minnesota's Office

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Harish Jonnalagadda

Newsroom Warrior for Mobile Nations

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Reader comments

First smartphone 'kill switch' bill in the US passed by… Minnesota


The intent is good, but cell phones are federally regulated devices (FCC). States really have no jurisdiction and should stay away from this issue. The manufacturers certainly will not navigate a legislative patchwork. The states and consumer groups would achieve more lobbying the FCC.

This guy is an idiot a first class one. Laptops have had theft issues for years, what happened to them?
This is a knee jerk reaction.

Exactly.. and ironically, the PARTS are worth more and you don't need an unlock code to pull an iPhone, Samsung or another smartphone screen, back, main board, buttons, etc...

Screens themselves sell well.

This is a meme too move by politicians.. it's a measure of the sad state of our Gov't and how it relates to social media, blogs, etc.

Solamar, this is a "keep the honest man honest" move by state and federal governments. This law will deter the "casual" thieves who only sell the devices to an unsuspecting consumer; not the "hardcore" thieves that you're mentioning.

First thing I thought of, when a group of people are protesting something, any government can shut down all of their phones remotely. Getting fitted for my tinfoil hat now... :-)