Governor Signs Smartphone Theft Bill

Leno bill requires anti-theft software

by Brian Leubitz

Gov. Brown signed Sen. Leno’s SB 962 today addressing the growing epidemic of smartphone theft in California. SB 962 requires all smartphones sold in California to come pre-equipped with theft-deterring technological solutions to render the devices useless if stolen. The bill is the first of its kind in the nation prompting every consumer to enable a kill switch as the default setting during the initial setup of a new smartphone. Sen. Leno then went full Colbert in his assesment of the bill:

“California has just put smartphone thieves on notice,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Starting next year, all smartphones sold in California, and most likely every other state in the union, will come equipped with theft deterrent technology when they purchase new phones. Our efforts will effectively wipe out the incentive to steal smartphones and curb this crime of convenience, which is fueling street crime and violence within our communities.”

On a more serious side, this bill, in some ways, is just legislating what has been happening already. However, many lower end phones may not have seen this feature for several years. It isn’t any huge issue to add it at this point, but this makes it the law in the state.  And because this is California, phone makers will just end up making all phones comply with this law.

This was quite a controversial bill, but ultimately, Leno and SF DA George Gascón built a coalition that could get this law passed. It is a big step in not only protecting property, but also encouraging public safety in general.