The Mobile Kill Switch Is In Effect: Here’s What You Need To Know

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It’s officially July, which means the California smartphone “kill switch” law is officially effective in the Golden State. If you’re scratching your head right now asking, “What is that? Did I miss something? Is that a dumb question?” You can find the answers here. 

The Mobile Kill Switch Is In Effect: Here’s What You Need To Know

It’s important to stay informed because the impact of this mandate could mean a revolutionary change for the smartphone world and us owners in it. 

What Is A Kill Switch? 

A kill switch is a function featured on a smart device that gives a person the ability to remotely lock a phone and wipe the data on it if needed. The anti-theft measure requires users to input a passcode in a smartphone before it can be unlocked or restored to factory settings. What this new law in California calls for is a mandatory kill switch (think “Find My iPhone” or Android Device Manager) built into all smartphones, placed in active mode automatically. 

Why Is It Happening? 

It’s happening because “Apple Picking,” aka iPhone stealing, has become a crime epidemic due to the great value these handheld gadgets hold. In fact, 3.1 million Americans had their mobile phones stolen in 2013 and an estimated 1 in 3 thefts in the U.S. involves a smartphone. Many victims of these crimes are passengers on public transit and a sizeable portion have been threatened with knives or guns as well as assaulted. In order to deter these events from happening, the government is getting involved. A law has already been put in place in Minnesota and most recently went into effect in the state of California. The thought behind requiring an obligatory kill switch in all phones is that potential thieves won’t even attempt to steal a phone by knowing it will render useless once out of the original owner’s hands. 

How It’s Taking Effect & Who’s On Board? 

The wireless industry is proactively working together with policymakers to ensure that phone software complies to the new law in effect. For California, it’s required that a kill switch be equipped in the device and turned on as a default. Retailers must comply with the statute and if they sell any smartphones without a kill switch in place, they could be fined $500 - $2,500 per each one that doesn’t meet the now standard requirement. 

Major mobile carriers like T-Mobile and Verizon have endorsed the effort, working with app developers and tech manufacturers to develop kill-switch capabilities in the phones they sell at the store. Ultimately the customer is protected in every way, and no additional costs are inflicted upon them with the upgrade. Smartphones with tightened security mean happier consumers and a happy customer for these businesses is always the goal. 

What The Future Holds

With initial steps already taken with similar kill-switch software implemented in the past couple of years, results are proving positive. From the 2013 stats of 3.1 million phones stolen, the number has already dropped by a million to 2.1 million in 2014, according to Consumer Reports. As technology undergoes innovation after innovation, more people will indirectly buy new kill-switch-enabled phones that come to market. The California law is anticipated to be a success and the rest of the nation will follow the leader. 

So now when anyone asks you what a mobile kill switch is, you’ll know that it is an anti-theft feature that has become a requirement in all new smartphones made in California. The overall hope is to prevent the act from happening altogether, thus leading to a world with no more smartphone stealing. This big move by the biggest state in America should spark a domino effect and bring the United States one step closer to a more peaceful, less crime-filled society.

RELATED: Will You be the Next Victim of Laptop Theft?

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*by andreascy*