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Contributors in Minnesota: Patrick Condon, J. Patrick Coolican, Patricia Lopez, Ricardo Lopez, Abby Simons, Rachel E. Stassen-Berger and Glen Stubbe. Contributors in D.C.: Allison Sherry and Jim Spencer.

House backs smartphone kill switch proposal

Posted by: Patrick Condon under Minnesota legislature Updated: May 8, 2014 - 1:11 PM

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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