Tech & Gadgets

Minnesota Signs ‘Kill Switch’ Bill to Address Mobile Theft Concerns

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Minnesota has signed the first law in the United States that mandates tech companies to equip mobile devices in the state with an antitheft software. The ?Kill Switch? law, which was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday, requires mobile devices sold in the state to have a remote shut ? off features to deter theft after July 1, 2015. This feature allows users to lock their devices after it is stolen to make it inoperable.

Cell Phone Theft a Major Statewide Concern

“Cell phone theft is a major concern here in Minnesota and around the country,” said Senator Katie Sieben, authored of the bill?s Senate version. “This legislation, which is the first of its kind in the country, will help reduce the likelihood that people will be robbed of their smart phones.”

The newly signed law requires retailers to pay in the form of a mailed check, store credit or electronic transfer to pay for used devices, instead of cash. Retailers are mandated to record all transactions.

Anti ? Theft Law

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The Minnesota bill was signed less than a week after California?s state Senate approved a similar one, which senators initially shut down on April 24. Once the California bill passes through the assembly, it will then be approved by Gov. Jerry Brown. Another related bill on the federal level was introduced in the U.S Congress in February. The Smartphone Theft Prevention Act is still on the committee.

Millions of Americans Victimized by Phone Theft

Mobile security firm Lookout released a study on Wednesday, revealing that one in 10 smartphone users in the U.S has been victimized by phone theft. In 2013, over 3.1 million Americans have had their phones stolen. This is twice as many as the figures gathered in 2012, according to Consumer Reports.

The wireless carrier industry, however, resisted the ?Kill Switch? efforts, arguing that the anti ? theft software could leave phones vulnerable to hacking. CTIA, a trade organization for mobile ? telecom companies, announced last month its commitment to standardize the anti ? theft software on all mobile phones from participating carriers and device makers.

Apple and Samsung, the two largest smartphone makers in the world, are offering anti ? theft software to users. The Mac maker even added an ?activation lock? feature that requires an Apple ID and password to reactivate a locked phone or switch off the device?s location tracker. Samsung, meanwhile, had the ?reactivation lock? that makes a phone inoperable, even after a factory reset.

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