California Smartphone Anti-Theft Bill Near Final Approval

A bill requiring smartphone makers such as Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. to add technology that would let consumers render the devices inoperable if stolen is nearing final approval after a California Senate vote.

The Senate, where Democrats hold a majority, today passed the so-called kill switch measure 27-8, sending it to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature. The bill would require a prompt in the initial setup of a new phone allowing the consumer to enable the technology as the default setting.

“Our goal is to swiftly take the wind out of the sails of thieves who have made the theft of smartphones one of the most prevalent street crimes,” Senator Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat who wrote the bill, said in a statement.

The theft of smartphones has grown along with their use. More than 65 percent of all robberies in San Francisco and 75 percent in Oakland involve the theft of a mobile device, according to Leno.

Brown, a 76-year-old Democrat, will have 12 days to decide on the measure once he receives it. Minnesota enacted a similar law in May.

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