Between 30 percent and 40 percent of robberies in cities involve cellphones, according to Federal Communications Commission statistics from 2012. The number of cellphone thefts last year rose in San Francisco, New York, Washington and Philadelphia, the Huffington Post reported.
Businesses and industry groups have argued against imposing kill switch mandates because they could pose risks, such as mistaken or malicious disabling of devices.
“Even if technically feasible to develop, a permanent ‘kill switch’ has very serious risks,” CTIA, a wireless industry association, notes in a fact sheet explaining its position against such requirements. In March, a senior CTIA executive testified before the Minnesota House against a version of the kill switch measure.
But last month, in anticipation of the bill’s passage, CTIA and others announced a voluntary initiative that would give users the same basic capabilities: Users will be able to remotely wipe data and disable a device with the ability to restore service and data once it’s back in the authorized user’s hands. The companies that signed onto the initiative were Apple, Asurion, AT&T, Google, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola Mobility, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular and Verizon Wireless.
Both that voluntary initiative and Minnesota’s go into effect in July 2015. Some devices, such as Apple’s, already have the capability, though many users have to opt in to enable it.