What cellphones and oleo have in common

  • Article by: HENRY OWEN
  • Updated: May 16, 2014 - 6:42 PM

Minnesota’s kill-switch mandate is first of its kind, but state overregulation is no surprise.

So, Minnesota is leading the nation again. This time we’ll be the first state to mandate the addition of a kill switch designed to take the incentive out of stealing cellphones. Good intention, but you know where that kind of thing leads.

My cellphone provider says that — right now — a simple telephone call will serve to shut down a stolen or lost cellphone. The provider rep laughed when I explained about the kill switch.

Still concerned, I searched Android apps for anti-theft protection and stopped counting after 150. I discovered phone protections that include locking stolen or lost phones, with the option of erasing all information, and even triggering a phone’s webcam to take a picture of anyone using the phone. There’s a lot more, but you get the idea.

When I moved to the Twin Cities in 1963, Minnesota banned colored oleomargarine. So people drove to Iowa, where every state-line gas station sold it by the case. I see a similar thing happening with cellphones. Minnesota will stand alone with its mandated and redundant requirements that will increase the complexity — and most likely the cost — of cellphones. So, we’ll all drive across the state line to buy our next-generation phones — the same way we travel to Wisconsin for Sunday beer and firecrackers.

Henry Owen lives in Minnetonka.

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