The Minnesota House has voted in favor of a proposal that would require all smartphones and cell-connected tablet computers sold in Minnesota to feature an anti-theft "kill switch."
The House backed the bill Thursday by a vote of 73-58. The kill switch function is intended to allow the device's owner to remotely disable it if it's lost or stolen. The legislation also aims to prevent manufacturers and carriers from adding additional fees to customers for access to the technology.
Included in the proposal are provisions that attempt to crack down on the cell phone re-sale market. It requires used cell phone dealers to keep detailed records of phones purchased for re-sale, and requires sellers to sign a statement attesting that the device is not stolen.
Supporters of the proposal say it will crack down on one of the fastest growing crimes in Minnesota. The smartphone industry fought back against the bill, saying the requirement would not keep up with rapidly evolving technology and that it could hinder consumer choice. However, the smartphone industry has recently released details of a voluntary kill switch initiative among a number of major wireless carriers.
The Senate passed its own version of the bill last week. The two bills are different, meaning the Senate will either have to sign on to House changes or else the proposal will go to a conference committee.
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Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota will support a Senate bill that requires food sold in the U.S. to carry labels disclosing genetically modified ingredients if it reaches the House for a vote. Peterson, a Democrat who is the ranking minority member of the House Agriculture Committee, reached that decision after studying a new Senate proposal. If passed by both chambers and signed into law, it would become the nation's first mandatory on-package labeling law for genetically modified organisms - known as GMOs. Peterson voted for a House bill that outlawed mandatory on-package designation of genetically engineered ingredients. But he said that the need for a national labeling policy in lieu of state laws like one that takes effect in Vermont July 1 was more important than deadlocking over on-package GMO labels.