Legislation was voted down this week by lawmakers in California that would have made it law for cell phone makers to have a “kill switch” preinstalled on each phone sold in California. The measure was initiated by supporters who deemed it an attempt at curbing identity and smartphone theft.
Senator Mark Leno sponsored the Senate legislation. Leno is a Democrat who represents San Francisco. Only a vote of 19-17 in favor on Thursday was received, failing to reach the 21 votes that are mandatory.
The legislation would have forced all smartphone makers to include a switch that would make the phone inoperable if it had been reported as being stolen.
The measure was popular amongst officials in law enforcement with Leno at one point saying that smartphone thefts had become epidemic.
A report by the Federal Communications Commission said that a mobile device or smartphone was involved in one third of all the robberies occurring in the U.S.
In California, the situation is even worse as according to an online statistical site the tablet or smartphone is targeted in more than 50% of the thefts in just San Francisco. Across the Bay in Oakland, thieves stole a mobile device or phone in 75% of the robberies.
Some lawmakers accused members of the California senate of being fearful of upsetting the Silicon Valley big shots by increasing their expenses of manufacturing.
A trade group CTIA, which lobbies for companies such as Verizon, Google, Samsung, Apple and many others promised that the industry is going to debut soon its own anti-theft tool that will be either pre-installed or available through a free app to download.
Proposals included allowing the consumer a way to delete remotely their personal information or to disable the device themselves if it were stolen.
Those in support of the measure said the 17 Senate members who voted no chose instead to protect the profits of a billion dollar industry over user safety of their own constituents.
Those voting no said the bill’s language was too vague and could have had an effect on other companies in technology.