California lawmakers hope to require smartphones to have a dedicated shutoff mechanism.

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A new bill introduced in California today will require all smartphones and tablets in the state to include a kill switch that would render the phone inoperable if stolen. The law would be the first of its kind in the United States.

State Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon, and others said the bill would require all mobile devices will include a kill switch starting January 1, 2015. Leno said the presence of a kill switch would lower the value of black market smartphones, yet the method of implementing the technology remains undecided.

According to the FCC, one-third of all robberies in the US involve the theft of a smartphone or tablet. District Attorney Gascon says that rate is 50 percent in San Francisco.

There are two theories as to how the kill switch might be applied to mobile devices: the first would require a user to contact the service provider, which would then deactivate the phone. The second method requires the original user name and password to be entered when reactivating the device. If that information isn't given, the phone or tablet will be useless.

Privacy advocates worry that this technology gives carriers too much access to personal files we have on our mobile devices, and has the potential for abuse by hackers or law enforcement agents.

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