Taking a Closer Look at the “Kill Switch” Law for Smartphones

Taking a Closer Look at the “Kill Switch” Law for Smartphones

What is the “Kill Switch” law?

Senate Bill No. 962, introduced in the California Senate on August 2014 and authored by Senator Mark Leno, proposed adding an act to Section 22761 to the Business and Professions Code. The specific language of S.B. 962 required “any smartphone… that is manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, and sold in California after that date, include a technological solution at the time of sale… that, once initiated and successfully communicated to the smartphone, can render inoperable the essential features… of the smartphone to an unauthorized user when the smartphone is not in the possession of an authorized user.” Governor Brown signed the bill into law on August 25, 2014.

What does S.B. 962 mean and why do we need it?

While the language of S.B. 962 may seem hard to understand, the proposal itself is very simple. With the approval of Bill, any smartphone manufactured or sold in California on or after July 1, 2015 must include an optional and reversible “kill switch.” The kill switch must be optional so that the owner of the phone or an authorized user is able to opt-out of the function. The kill switch must be reversible so that an authorized user is able to unlock and utilize the functions of the phone if it is obtained after being in the possession of an unauthorized user. An example would be a stolen phone being found and returned to the rightful owner. The goal of this law was to deter the surge in violent smartphone thefts. Many law enforcement officials, including the Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department, believed S.B. 962 would effectively reduce incidents of cell phone theft.

What is the problem with S.B. 962?

Up to this point, you may be thinking this new is absolutely great! Not only does it protect smartphone owners, it also has the potential to decrease rates of violent cell phone thefts. However, there is a problem. The problem is that this new law would be directed at  smartphone retailers, not manufacturers. Retailers knowingly selling a phone in violation of S.B. 962 may be punished with a civil penalty of $500 and at most $2,500 per smartphone. The same penalties apply if the kill switch can be easily circumvented by hackers and the retailer is aware of this. The key to these civil penalties is knowledge on behalf of the retailers, which can be tricky to prove since the law does not require retailers to give written notification of either compliance or noncompliance with the new law. For example, while Wal-Mart acknowledged the new law and said they would try their best to adhere to it, Best Buy has remained quiet. Critics also claim the penalties for this law are absurd because they exceed the amount spent on buying an average smartphone.

Since the new law applies to retailers of phones, its influence carries beyond California State Lines. Therefore, S.B. 962 may be infringing on Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce. However, the law was successfully passed after being signed by Governor Brown in August 2014. No mention of interstate commerce or infringing on Congress’s right was made in the bill or during the signing.

How effective has S.B. 962 been?

The “Kill Switch” law has been in effect for almost two years and the technology industry is very pleased. In a study published by Consumer Reports, the number of cell phone thefts dropped from 3.1 million to 2.1 million in the year following S.B. 962. A former smartphone thief also said he would think twice about stealing a smartphone with a kill switch because he is not interested in stealing a phone he cannot access. S.B. 962 has been effective so far and the hope is that smartphone thefts will continue to decrease in the coming years.

Sources referenced:

  1. JD Supra
  2. CNET
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Business: Be Smart, Be Effective, Be Efficient.

When starting a new business there is always so much to learn and gain, even from the smallest of tips. Working with several clients at the start up of their businesses as well as pulling from my own business experience, I have contemplated and compiled the top 5 methods of increasing your business efficiency without increasing your overhead.

Tip #1: Time is money.

While already having discovered the magnificent benefits of business exposure through social media, taking the time to actually sit down, create posts and publish them every week, let alone every day, might not be an option. Utilize tools such as Hootsuite, or the WordPress scheduled posting feature to draft and schedule your posts in advance. With this, you can schedule, monthly, weekly or even daily posts far in advance in one sitting. This will keep your social media presence alive, as well as your business exposure, without taking up too much of your precious work time. Once you have done this, consider your other automated task options such as billing or e-mailing. Converting such manual tasks to automated tasks will save you loads of time and therefore save you money.

Tip #2: Productive communication.

E-mail has been and still is the most efficient means of communication. From small retailers to large corporations e-mail systems help to keep businesses up to date on business related information whether in or out of the office. Other methods similar to e-mail include social media messaging. Focus on such methods of communication and try to avoid cold calls and door to door selling where possible. Establishing firm, efficient communication through messaging will help your business avoid unnecessary rejection for the messages you receive back will most likely be those of interest, thus helping you find clients without the extra effort.

Tip #3: Grow your business through referrals.

Asking clients for referrals is a simple method of finding potential new clients. Think of this method of approaching new clients as taking an educated guess rather than blindly searching for prospective customers. One way to create incentive  toward gaining referrals is to offer rewards to current loyal clients or those who provide referrals. Rewards can be as simple as discounts or further service. Both methods will improve your client traffic and business services without breaking the bank.

Tip #4: Provoke employee efficiency through your own efficiency.

Always be an efficient leader through efficient time management. Train employees and others to contact you through email versus over the phone. Why? E-mail can be saved, stored, tracked, referred to and is almost always readily available. Furthermore plan out everything and add it to your calendar. Be sure to plan out your entire week in advance. Add everything to your calendar. If something is not scheduled on your calendar, it should not take place. While this takes discipline, politely sticking to this will gain you respect from both clients and employees. Lastly, utilize the cloud. Use tools such as Drop Box or Google Drive. This will allow you to easily access documents anywhere Wi-Fi is available. It also allows you to easily collaborate and share with others.

Tip #5: Be Patient.

Those working in the field of business can attest to the fact that not everything works out the way you want it to. Many times, procedures take time and effort. Such an investment however, given enough time, may yield significant time and money saving results. Be flexible and try new methods and ideas, while weeding out those that do not work for your business.

Utilizing these 5 tips can help your business run a bit more smoothly by saving you a little bit of time and money.

increased quality - speed - efficiency