SACRAMENTO — Despite support from law enforcement including
With the telecommunications industry, including
Beck campaigned for the measure as a way to reduce often violent thefts of the phones that have increased more than 30% since 2011 in his city.
“This is an issue we need to address,” said Sen.
But amid heavy lobbying against the measure, a group of Democrats, including Sens.
Opponents said the phone industry has pledged to voluntarily provide kill switches that consumers can choose to enable.
“This bill is unnecessary. Its punitive,” said Senate Republican leader
Currently, phone buyers can purchase apps that allow them to kill their phone if stolen, but many don’t enable kill switches and criminals know that. Senate President Pro Tem
"The criminal will be less likely to steal the phone because he or she knows it will be of no utility to them," Steinberg said.
The bill currently would also apply to tablets, but Leno said he plans to remove those devices from the proposal. He also is delaying implementation to July 1, 2015 so phone makers could sell the phones in their warehouses that are not equipped with kill switches.
Under the measure, if a phone is stolen, the owner would be able to go online and type in a name and password to render the phone inoperable.
A disappointed Leno noted that smart phone industry makes billions of dollars selling devices to those whose phones were lost or stolen and providing theft insurance. "If we end the robberies there will be an obvious impact to their bottom line," Leno told his colleagues.
Jamie Hastings, vice president for the trade group CTIA, praised the vote.
"The U.S. wireless industry continues to protect its consumers' information and help stop the theft of stolen smartphones via the 'Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment,' which is free to users, as well as the stolen phone databases and individual company and industry-wide consumer education initiatives," Hastings said in a statement.