A mandatory kill-switch law failed to pass the California Senate on Thursday, meaning phone makers will not be required to add anti-theft features on new smartphones this coming year. Short of 21 votes, Senate Bill 962 was amended to delay the kill-switch regulation until July of 2015.
Unfortunately, this means another win for telecommunication lobbyists who have long disapproved of installing additional features as stolen phones actually increase insurance premiums and sales for replacement units.
The law was proposed by Mark Leno, a Senator from San Francisco, a city with plenty of smartphones and theives seeking to steal them. In the legislation, he said, “We need to get into the minds of those that have shifted their criminal activities to this new crime, that it’s not worth it. That it’s not worth the risk because the benefit will not be there.”
Of course, proponents like Senate Republican, Steve Knight of Paldale thinks, “I don’t want street robberies to happen, I don’t want cellphones to be stolen, but this bill is not going to address that enforcement issue.”
CTIA, an organization representing telecom companies released a statement approving of the failure, alluding to its voluntary program for anti-theft hardware:
The U.S. wireless industry continues to protect its consumers’ information and help stop the theft of stolen smartphones via the ‘Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment,’ which is free to users, as well as the stolen phone databases and individual company and industry-wide consumer education initiatives.
Of course, as we all know, it has always been a voluntary program, so merely stating that companies can choose to do something does not necessarily mean they ever have or will. That’s where legislation comes in – unfortunately, not at this time.