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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Federal Bill Could Require Kill Switches For New Smartphones

As reported by NY Daily News: This legislation would hit “Apple pickers” at their core.

City and state officials on Monday announced new federal legislation that would require smart phone manufacturers to add a "kill switch" to new phones to deter the rising crime of cellphone robberies.

  Bronx Congressman José Serrano was joined by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to unveil the bill introduced in the House of Representatives. It mirrors a bill already introduced in the Senate last month.

In New York City alone, 20% of robbers went after smartphones, a 40% increase from a year ago, authorities said. The crime has become known as "Apple picking."

  "These crimes are often accompanied by violence,” Schneiderman said. “People are assaulted and in more than a few cases, killed."
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (center) announces federal legislation for smartphone manufacturers to install a kill switches on smartphone, which could protect users' data and help them avoid violent confrontations with thieves. 
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (center) announces federal legislation for smartphone manufacturers to install a kill switches on smartphone, which could protect users' data and help them avoid violent confrontations with thieves. 

The leaders said the phone companies could either make the move on their own or the law will be enforced by the FCC, Serrano said.

"It would make sure that if a phone is stolen, it would render it inoperative,” Serrano said.

Bratton said corporate greed is to blame for not having the kill switch in the phones already in existence. Manufacturers came through when the city saw a wave of car robberies in the 1990s and Bratton would like to see them same happen with phones, he said.

Paul Boken said his daughter, Megan Boken, was killed by violent thieves 18 months ago in St. Louis during a cellphone robbery.

"She was targeted because she was talking on her smartphone. At the time she was talking to her mother, just checking in," Boken said.

"She paid the ultimate price," said Megan’s sister, Annie Palazzolo, who lives in New York. "Because someone wanted to steal her brand new iPhone, Megan lost her life at age 23."