Starting July 1, 2015, smartphones sold in the state of California will be required to be sold with theoretical “kill switch” software baked in. Thanks to the bill, which was signed into law today, buyers who have their phones stolen will be able to remotely render their device unusable, with the ultimate goal being to help drastically cut down on theft of smart devices.
Many companies who make the software found on devices, such as Apple and Google (Android Device Manager), have already begun this process for consumers, and in addition, a large group of manufacturers and US carriers have pledged to make smartphones harder to steal as part of a voluntary commitment with the CTIA.
The following excerpt was taken from the bill, SB-962, which lays out pretty well the exact details of the new law.
Any smartphone that is manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, shall include a technological solution at the time of sale, to be provided by the manufacturer or operating system provider, that, once initiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can render the essential features of the smartphone inoperable to an unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession of an authorized user. The smartphone shall, during the initial device setup process, prompt an authorized user to enable the technological solution.
The technological solution shall be reversible, so that if an authorized user obtains possession of the smartphone after the essential features of the smartphone have been rendered inoperable, the operation of those essential features can be restored by an authorized user. A technological solution may consist of software, hardware, or a combination of both software and hardware, and when enabled, shall be able to withstand a hard reset or operating system downgrade and shall prevent reactivation of the smartphone on a wireless network except by an authorized user.