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Alameda County Leaders Pressure Lawmakers To Make Kill Switch Mandatory On Cell Phones

OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Alameda County leaders met at Oakland City Hall Thursday morning to push state lawmakers to pass a smartphone kill switch bill — and to announce their intentions to pass their own at a local level should it fail.

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan was joined by leaders from several officials from Berkeley, Alameda and Emeryville in calling for the Assembly to follow the lead of the state Senate to require kill switches on smartphones.  She warned that if this does not happen, the cities will band together to enact their own law.

"This needs to happen.  But if it doesn't happen, because of the seriousness of this, at least my city is going to be looking at local legislation we can pass," she said.

East Bay Leaders Step Up Pressure To Require Kill Switches For Smartphones

Oakland Police Chief Sean Whent was in agreement and said every phone company needs to add a kill switch, that renders the phone useless if it's stolen.  "We still see about three-quarters of robberies in this city involve the loss of a cellphone," Whent said.  "So we need to use whatever tools are available to have a disincentive for people to commit that crime."

Newer Apple iPhones do have a kill switch, which users have to "opt in" to the feature, and it's been proving successful.  New crime data shows iPhone robberies in San Francisco dropped 38 percent since those phones hit the market.

San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon said, "The problem with the current state of affairs is, even if you and I are using kill switch technology on our phone, the thieves out there know that more than half of the consumers do not have theirs activated, so it's a matter of playing the odds."

Google and Microsoft are expected to incorporate a kill switch into the next version of their operating systems on smartphones.

This is the second time the bill is going through the Legislature. Several cell phone makers and carriers opposed it the first time around. Now they're on board after the latest bill would mandate those features be automatic instead of optional to phone users.

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