California bill to require antitheft technology for all smartphones

This bill was introduced by George Gascón, San Francisco’s district attorney. Gascón, long a fan of Apple and iPhone, has been pushing for antitheft legislation since last year’s introduction of Find My iPhone and activation lock.

The legislation is being opposed by CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association), the wireless trade association.

Senator Leno’s legislation will almost certainly face resistance from CTIA, the industry trade group that represents the cellphone carriers like AT&T, Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile US. Last year, CTIA said in a filing to the Federal Communications Commission that “a kill switch isn’t the answer.”

CTIA said that a kill switch would pose risks, because hackers who took control of the feature could disable phones for customers, including the phones used by officials in the Department of Defense and in law enforcement.

Has this ever happened, even once? I think this is a baseless argument.

The group also argues that if a phone were deactivated and the owner later retrieved it, the owner could not reactivate it. But in the case of Apple’s new antitheft feature, Activation Lock, a customer can disable a phone that has been lost as well as reactivate it with the correct user name and password after the device has been found.

I think the CTIA objects to the potential cost and is masking their argument. If it’s cost, say that, and work out a path to solving that problem. This bill is good for consumers and, I believe, has been shown to lower phone theft rates.