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Cell Phone Kill Switch Mandatory in California

FILE - Farah Baker, 16, uses her phone to tweet her family. California approved a new 'kill switch' law in an effort to deter rampant theft of mobile devices, August 10, 2014.

Stealing a smartphone in California will soon become futile business because owners will be able to remotely turn it into a useless junk.

According to a new law passed Monday, all smartphones sold in that state after July 1, 2015, will have to be equipped with an active remote kill switch. When applied by the authorized user the switch will lock the stolen or lost phone and wipe all data stored in its memory. It will also make it impossible to reinstall a new operating system.

The new law will be applicable only to smartphones sold in California, but the impossibility of manufacturing different devices only for one state’s market will probably extend the new feature to all smartphones sold in the United States and eventually to the rest of the world.

Police will also be able to use the new tool, but only in special conditions and with a court order.

California’s legislature responded to the increasing pressure from police and public to curb the widespread crime of smartphone thefts.