What if Police had a Universal Cellphone "Kill Switch"? (Will Grigg)
Tuesday June 25th, 2013
A group calling itself “Secure our Smartphones” is demanding that cellphone manufacturers display what they call “good corporate citizenship” by installing a “kill switch” that would enable police to disable stolen cellphones.
The group claims that theUnited States is confronting an epidemic of cellphone theft, and that immediate action is desperately needed in order to ensure the safety of consumers. There’s abundant reason to believe, however, that the impetus behind this campaign is the convenience of police officers, rather than the safety of cellphone users.
The Secure our Smartphones initiative is led by two prosecutors – New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and San Francisco District Attorney George Gascon. Its membership includes numerous state Attorneys General, District Attorneys, major city Police Chiefs, and other law enforcement associations.
It isn’t obvious that a kill switch could deter cellphone theft, or that we are facing an acute documentable increase in that particular crime. What is clear, however, is that police departments across the country would love to have the ability to disable smartphones in order to prevent citizens from making video recordings of instances of police brutality – and a factory-installed kill switch would certainly be a significant step in that direction.