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Smartphone 'kill switch' legislation introduced in U.S. House

  |   March 4, 2014 at 1:22 PM
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NEW YORK, March 4 (UPI) -- Legislation that would require a "kill switch" on smartphones to deter thefts has been introduced in the U.S. House, Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., said.

Serrano's legislation, introduced Monday, follows the introduction of a similar bill introduced last month by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.

A "kill switch" allows smartphone owners to remotely erase data on a stolen device and render the device inoperable.

Wireless companies have warned the technology could, in theory, be used by criminals or terrorists to cut off phone communications, CBS News reported Monday.

"We are very concerned that this is also secure," Verizon Wireless attorney Randal Milch at a Senate hearing last week. "We don't want an instance where it is a hackable kill switch."

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is among a growing number of state law enforcement officials who want mandatory kill switches in mobile devices, said, "Thieves are not going to stop stealing smartphones until they know that the smartphones are all worthless."

Besides the congressional legislation, officials in several states, including California and Illinois, are also considering "kill switch" legislation.

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