Oakland Councilmember Dan Kalb knows first hand how a kill-switch on smartphones may lessened the likelihood of being a victim of armed robbery. On Thursday, the State Senate narrowly failed to pass a bill backed by the Oakland City Council to include a function on all smartphones allowing them to be deactivated when stolen. The feature renders the smartphone useless for robbers and potentially dissuades them from targeting those who often fiddle around with their pricey hardware in public. The bill failed, 19-17.
“The State Senate did a dumb thing on smartphones today by not passing SB 962,” Kalb said, in a statement Thursday afternoon. “As an Oakland local elected official and the victim of an armed robbery, I know that if and when this bill becomes law, it will reduce armed robberies in Oakland and throughout the state. I hope that the wavering senators who failed the public today wise up and vote Yes when it comes up for another vote.”
In Oakland, Kalb has been the most vocal proponent for making kill-switches a standard feature on all smartphones. A recent rise in armed robberies has been attributed to thefts involving smartphones. In response, the City Council passed a resolution authored by Kalb last month in support of State Sen. Mark Leno’s bill .
The legislation was also backed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. After the vote, Gascon wrote on Twitter, “How many telco lobbyists does it take to kill a bill that safeguards their own customers from violent theft?” The tweet was accompanied with photo of cell phone lobbyists waiting outside the senate chambers.
Cell phone providers have resisted including the kill-switch function to its phones despite evidence it would protect its customers. They add, the feature can be easily downloaded by users as an app on their smartphones. Gascon said he will attempt to push for another try at kill-switch legislation in the near future.
Originally posted at East Bay Citizen.