Gov. Brown signs ‘kill switch’ law

by Lawson Navarro, Staff Writer

California Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that will require smartphones sold in the state to have antitheft technology, known as the “kill switch.” With San Diego State experiencing an increase in robberies throughout the last three years, including smartphone theft, the law may play a big part in decreasing campus crime.

“Because of all the phone theft on campus, it’s prevented me from getting an iPhone. I worry about it getting stolen,” international security and conflict resolution senior Adriana Jones-Lima said.

Lima owns a Nokia Lumia. The communication company will now release a “kill switch” feature with its phones by law.

Theft of iPhones has become so widespread, it’s now called “apple picking,” although phone theft of any kind is a sweeping issue in the US. 

The SB-962 smartphones bill was introduced by State Sen. Mark Leno with the intent of decreasing the urge to “apple pick.”

Unlike Minnesota’s law, the first state to require the “kill switch,” California law will now require phones to already be shipped with the anti-theft technology turned on by default.

After a phone is reported as stolen, the phone is disabled and can only be reactivated with a correct password or personal identification number.

Apple’s version of the “kill switch,” called Activation Lock, was included as a feature of iOS7 since September 2013.  Microsoft, Google and other big names’ phones will include this new technology along with all other smartphones sold in California by July 2015.

We support any measure in helping to combat cell phone theft,” said Capt. Joshua Mays, the SDSU police department public information officer.

In fall 2013, crime alerts from SDSUPD reported of victims being approached by suspects to use their phones for calls.  After receiving the borrowed phones, the suspects would take off running.  Other reports included the suspects taking the devices by force.

According to the SDSUPD crime report, there were 11 reported robberies on campus in 2012. In 2011, there were two reports of robbery.

“I like to talk on my phone in between classes because it makes me feel safer,” Lima said.  “I feel unsafe at campus toward evening and night time and I feel like it should be a safer place.”

SDSUPD sends crime alerts to students, faculty and staff through email, and also speak at the freshmen orientations to inform students of their services.

“The police department takes many steps to help educate the community on the issues surrounding thefts and robberies of personal cell phones,” Mays said. 

SDSUPD urges students to be alert when walking around campus on their phones and to be cautious if people ask to use their cell phones.