California requires smartphones to be sold with default security software

26 Aug 2014

Every smartphone sold in California will require antitheft security features to come enabled on the device by default, now that the state governor has signed a ‘kill switch’ bill into law.

The law will apply only to smartphones sold in California after 1 July 2015, CNET reported. Retailers face a penalty of US$500 to US$2,500 for the “knowing retail sale” of every phone not in compliance.

Gov Jerry Brown signed the bill yesterday, after it passed the state legislature earlier this month, making California the first state to require the default features on every smartphone sold in the state.

The law aims to address the increase in smartphone theft. Mobile security firm Lookout has reported one in 10 Americans has had a smartphone stolen, whereas Consumer Reports revealed 3m Americans had a phone stolen in 2013 – nearly double the number from 2012, according to CNet.

With a smartphone kill switch, an owner can lock down the device if it is stolen, rendering it useless.

Smartphone security image via Shutterstock

Tina Costanza was a journalist and sub-editor at Silicon Republic