Legislation has been passed in the state of Minnesota, as well as California, to allow kill switches on cellphones. While there was initially some pushback from industry regarding the kill switches, they’ve decided to accept it. So what’s a kill switch and why do those sponsoring the legislation believe it’s necessary?
A kill switch is used for protection in the event of a cellphone loss or theft. As the vast majority of people don’t use any sort of security code to lock their phone, thieves are able to access all of their confidential information, and in many cases, the apps installed are designed to automatically log in to websites, such as Facebook and Twitter.
The idea behind the kill switch is simple:
- To contact the carrier and disable the phone
- To wipe the information and apps off the phone
Of course, this sounds like a great idea for consumers, so why does industry keep fighting it? Well, it puts a lot of power into the hands of consumers. For example, parents may want to wipe their children’s phones. Regardless, this will be something that’s available all around the country. In fact, it required congressional action at the federal level because telecommunications crosses the border.
We believe it’s going to be very effective, however, there’s some concerns about the California law in particular: there’s a provision that allows local law enforcement to gain court approval and disable phones for public safety reasons! Ultimately, it’s very easy for law enforcement to get court approval for something that’s supposedly in the Interest of the public’s safety.
If law enforcement does disable phones, the public won’t be too happy. Why? Because once the phone is disabled using the kill switch, it’s disabled and useless forever – it becomes pointless to own.
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