In what can only be seen as a victory for wireless carriers, law makers in California on Thursday shot down a bill that would have required smartphone manufacturers to include a kill switch on new devices sold in the state.
Senate Bill 962 needed at least 21 votes in favor to move to the next phase, the state assembly. Senator Mark Leno, a Democrat that represents San Francisco, was the bill’s sponsor and even after modifying the legislation to exclude tablets and pushing the start date back to July 1, 2015, it ultimately came up short.
Following nearly 40 minutes of debate, it could only muster support from 19 voters. Several fellow Democrats – 17 people in total – voted against the bill. So, what went wrong?
Despite a desire to curb crime, many were worried about how the law would be enforced. Steve Knight, a Republican from Palmdale, said he didn’t want street robberies to happen and he didn’t want phones to be stolen but he also didn’t believe the bill would address the enforcement issue.
Others, like Democrat Norma Torres, questioned whether or not the feature could be used for the wrong reasons. For example, would a spouse involved in a domestic dispute or a divorce be allowed to kill the phone of their mate out of spite?
A proponent of the law, San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon felt those that voted against the bill did so to protect billion dollar industry profits over the safety of the constituents they were elected to serve.