SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – San Francisco Supervisor London Breed is proposing legislation that would require smartphones and other mobile devices sold in the city to be equipped with a kill switch, rendering them inoperable if lost or stolen.
“Thieves know that smartphones and tablets are easy to steal, easy to repurpose, and easy to sell for hundreds of dollars on the streets,” Breed said.
The proposal comes just days before legislators in Sacramento will reconsider a bill by state Senator Mark Leno of San Francisco, that would require kill switches for all phones sold in California. The measure fell two votes short of passing on April 24.
Supervisor Breed said the proposal is especially important in San Francisco, because even though violent crime is down in the city, cellphone theft continues to be a major problem.
“If some sellers or phone manufacturers choose not to sell in San Francisco, so be it,” Breed said. “Those who care about public safety have a competitive advantage in a lucrative local market.” Breed’s proposal would offer buyers the option of opting out. She said she would prefer a statewide measure, but that San Francisco needs to act now in the interest of public safety.
San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have led a national effort to have a kill switch implemented in phones and other devices, in an effort to find solutions to curb smartphone theft.
CTIA, a wireless industry trade association, remains opposed to the idea. But KCBS and Chronicle Insider Phil Matier talked to state Sen. Leno on Wednesday morning and said he was told that Apple is now neutral in terms of kill switch legislation. The company had been opposed to any measure requiring a kill switch for phones. This is seen as a possible game-changer, as Apple is one of the biggest smartphone manufacturers in the world.
Another vote on Leno’s Senate bill is expected on Thursday in Sacramento.
You can hear Phil Matier’s comments Monday through Friday at 7:50am and 5:50pm on KCBS All News 740AM and 106.9FM.