A California bill hoping to add “kill switches” to smartphones failed to pass in the state’s Senate earlier this week. Lawmakers have been trying to come up with a solution to combat rising smartphone theft, and have even called out big manufacturers to address the issue. But the bill, proposed by Sen. Mark Leno, a San Francisco Democrat, didn’t receive enough votes; it did obtain a vote of 19 to 17 in favor, though it needed 21 in order to pass.
Carriers and even some manufacturers have opposed the kill switch idea from lawmakers, though a unified idea still hasn’t been agreed upon. Many of today’s biggest manufacturers—Apple, Google, Microsoft and Samsung—have all pledged to come up with their own solutions to discourage theft by 2015. Apple already offers its Find my iPhone solution, while Google’s Android has a Device Manager, which allows users to erase data on a phone and reset other information.
The bill proposed by Sen. Leno, however, was seen as too broad, with language that might have even included other technology, and not just mobile phones. Several lawmakers backed the bill, and argued it needed to be passed due to the rising number of smartphone thefts. While there are current solutions out there, proponents said that this software needs to be more accessible to owners.
“It needs to be deployed in a way which doesn’t rely on consumers to seek out the solutions and turn them on,” said San Francisco District Attorney George Gasćon. “17 members of the Senate chose to protect billion dollar industry profits over the safety of the constituents they were elected to serve.”
New York City reportedly saw a 40-percent increase in mobile device thefts last year alone, while over half of robberies in San Francisco were apparently over smartphones. If you haven’t installed anti-theft software on your device yet, you better get to it. And, just in case, be extra cautious when out and about with your device.