The Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton signed the first kill switch into law. According to a new law, as of July 1st, 2015 it will be illegal to sell a smartphone in Minnesota without some sort of anti-theft software installed on it. This software should enable the users to remotely disable and wipe their phones in case they are stolen. Wiping the phone deletes all data permanently so that it cannot be recovered using data recovery software.
This should help the owner make sure that the data cannot be stolen from their phone anymore. That should also prevent criminals from stealing expensive phones as well. Police departments across the country have been asking for this feature because of the high volume of smartphones theft. According to the FCC, it is estimated that out of every three robberies in the US, one involves smartphones.
The law does not involve a certain piece of code to be installed in all smartphones and it doesn’t involve a physical kill switch either. The law only states that the smartphones should be:
“equipped with preloaded antitheft functionality or be capable of downloading that functionality,”
The law does not define what antitheft functionality means or the sort of protection that the software is supposed to provide. The law is a bit vague.
On the manufacturer’s side we see that all major phone manufacturer have already agreed to provide remote lock and remote wipe functionality in their phones by next July. The law is actually codifying whats already happening in the smartphone industry. The law has also given smartphone companies until January 2015 to explain what their phone’s antitheft software will do to help.
This law also means that anyone who is selling used phones will have to comply to the new rules if they don’t want to break the law. Used phone shops will now need to set up security cameras and ask for driver’s license numbers to keep as record of the customer’s identity when trading phones.