Senate democrats introduced new legislation called the Smartphone
Theft Prevention Act (senate bill 2032), which would mandate a killswitch
option on all smartphones. The big four wireless carriers as well as the CTIA are all on record
as being against such measures, but if the bill passes, they won’t have much of a choice in the matter.
Headed by Minnesota democrat Amy Klobuchar and co-signed by Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), the act would require carriers to provide the technology that would allow users to remotely wipe their phones of identifying information and brick the devices, as well.
Klobuchar cites FCC
statistics that say one in three thefts involve smartphones, which in many cases have relatively high resale value and can also be treasure troves of personal data.
“Cell phone theft has become a big business for thieves looking to cash in on these devices and any valuable information they contain, costing consumers more than $30 billion every year and endangering countless theft victims,” said Senator Klobuchar in a statement. “This legislation will help eliminate the incentives for criminals to target smartphones by empowering victims to take steps to keep their information private, protect their identity and finances, and render the phone inoperable to the thieves.”
The legislation would require that carriers provide the technology free of charge and would also make it impossible to reactivate the stolen phone on any network by anyone other than the device’s owner.