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California Law Mandating Presence of “Kill Switches” in Smartphones Now Effective

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One of the major issues plaguing smartphone consumers is that of theft, and despite basic protection features like lockscreen passwords and such, both Android and iOS devices could be stolen and reset by third parties for use again.

While consumers have long been calling for more stringent anti-theft features, the good folks in California have been the first to take action by passing a law which requires every phone in the state to have a “kill switch” of sorts.

This effectively means that any phone which is reported stolen by the owner can be made unusable and hence rendered worthless – discouraging theft. The law was finalized last year with the California bill SB-962 which was set to take effect from July 1, 2015.

California Phone Theft Law

The original text of the bill reads, “This bill would require that any smartphone, as defined, that is manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, include a technological solution at the time of sale, which may consist of software, hardware, or both software and hardware, that, once initiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can render inoperable the essential features, as defined, of the smartphone to an unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession of an authorized user…” – you can read the full text here.

Now the law is effective and major smartphone manufacturers like Apple, Google, HTC and Samsung have been at its back. Google also promised earlier to provide more effective anti-theft measures in Android devices, and changes were visible in Android 5.0 Lollipop, which allows users to password-protect the factory reset option.

The Android Device Manager has also been capable of remotely locking down a phone, and coupled with the new factory reset prevention feature, should provide for a solid anti-theft measure.

Android Device Manager

The law requiring such measures was in fact voted down in the senate initially and was not favored by smartphone insurers who earn billions every year in profits. However, there is no doubt that the implementation of this law is in the greater interest of consumers and the inclusion of anti-theft measures by some companies in the past has seen positive improvements.

Android users have also been able to benefit from numerous anti-theft and mobile security apps, but despite these measures, the number of thefts last year (2.1 million) merit more stringent preventive measures.

Another important aspect here is that of awareness, because the existence of the law merely facilitates the availability of tools and options that can discourage theft.

What is required after this is that smartphone consumers be educated in to use these tools and “kill switches” more effectively to protect their personal data and deter smartphone theft by rendering stolen devices useless.

How do you protect your Android smartphone from theft? Do you use any mobile security application? We’d love to hear your thoughts on all this and the new California law. Just leave a comment below or subscribe for more updates, guides and Android app selections.

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