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Mandatory 'kill switch' on smartphones becomes law

Posted by: Abby Simons Updated: May 14, 2014 - 12:27 PM

A first-in-the nation measure would require smartphone manufacturers to install mandatory “kill switch” technology to deter thefts became law with Gov. Mark Dayton’s signature Wednesday.

“This is a very important step forward for protecting young people and protecting people of all ages,” Dayton said.

The law mandates that smartphone manufacturers equip their phones with the technology by July 1, 2015. The “kill switch” enables a smartphone owner to remotely disable a smartphone or tablet if it is lost or stolen, rendering the devices useless. The law also prohibits retailers from paying cash for used phones, rather than electronic transfer or check. Despite initial reluctance, the wireless industry announced last month that it would install the technology by 2015.

“At this point, it’s a race to get that technology loaded onto phones so that it will be universally available on smartphones,” said Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, who co-authored the legislation with Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights.

The legislation was triggered by a rash of violent robberies on the University of Minnesota campus that began last fall, the most recent among them occurring this month when two students were stabbed while walking home. University of Minnesota police chief Greg Hestness said that 62 percent of on-campus robberies are cell phone related. At the federal level, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar also authored legislation mandating the technology.

Atkins said Minnesota’s legislation will now likely serve as a model for other states that wish to pursue such legislation. Bills in other states like California and Illinois are in the works.
 

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