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article imageCalifornia senate kills cellphone kill-switch law

By Nathan Salant     Apr 24, 2014 in Technology
San Francisco - State Sen. Mark Leno blamed Thursday's defeat of his proposal to require a "kill-switch" on cellular telephones on intense industry lobbying but promised to bring his bill up again this year.
"We aren't giving up," Leno (D-San Francisco) said Thursday after his proposal, SB962, failed by two votes in California's state senate.
"One would hope and believe there would be votes there to protect public safety and not the interests of the powerful special interests," Leno said after his bill failed despite support from the public and law enforcement, according to the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
Backers contend the bill, which would have forced cell phone makers to install a switch to allow owners to disable the devices remotely and to clear their personal information from the devices in case of theft, would cut a statewide rise in phone-related robberies and assaults.
But many manufacturers and service providers opposed a government mandate, choosing instead to agree this month on a voluntary standard to accomplish basically the same things.
Nearly all Republicans voted against the bill joined by several Democrats, including Jim Beall of San Jose, Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens and Norma Torres of Pomona, the newspaper said.
Leno told the Chronicle that he brought the bill to a vote Thursday because he thought he had the needed 21 votes but was surprised at the "force" of intense lobbying that opposed it.
The vote came less than a month after a major wireless trade group, the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, announced that several major cellphone makers and wireless providers had agreed on a voluntary standard taking effect in 2015.
But the CTIA remained opposed to Leno's bill., the newspaper said.
Gascon told California's senators that two-thirds of all robberies in San Francisco involved a cellphone or a tablet computer.
"Today's decision by the State Senate is disheartening given the rampant rate of victimization," Gascón said Thursday in a written statement.
"With their no vote, 17 members of the Senate chose to protect billion dollar industry profits over the safety of the constituents they were elected to serve," he said.
More than 1.6 million U.S. residents had a cellphone or similar device stolen in 2012, the newspaper said citing Consumer Reports magazine.
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