Democratic U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar has introduced legislation to fight a growing trend of smartphone thefts nationwide by forcing the industry to adopt technology that makes it impossible to reuse stolen devices.
Klobuchar’s Smartphone Theft Protection Act would require all phones sold in the United States to have a “kill switch” that shuts down a phone's call capabilities and scrubs personal information from the device when it's reported stolen.
With thieves targeting smart phones for their high aftermarket resale value, nearly a third of robberies now involve cell phone theft.
The thefts cost consumers more than $30 billion per year, the Federal Communications Commission estimates.
“Cell phone theft has become a big business for thieves looking to cash in on these devices and any valuable information they contain,” Klobuchar said.
“This legislation will help eliminate the incentives for criminals to target smartphones by empowering victims to take steps to keep their information private, protect their identity and finances, and render the phone inoperable to the thieves.”
The bill -- the first of its kind in Congress -- would empower the FCC to fine phone manufacturers or wireless carriers that refuse to comply.
Thus far, most of the wireless industry has resisted installing “kill switch” features, raising questions about whether the legislation will gain traction in Congress.
Klobuchar, who introduced the legislation with three other Democratic senators, previewed the legislation during a visit to the University of Minnesota last month.