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Minnesota signs "kill switch law" for stolen smartphones

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Minnesota has become the first US state to sign off on a bill mandating that smartphones be equipped with anti-theft software.

“Any new smart phone manufactured on or after July 1, 2015, sold or purchased in Minnesota must be equipped with preloaded antitheft functionality or be capable of downloading that functionality,” read the bill that was signed into law by Gov. Mark Dayton on Wednesday.

The software, which has also been made a must for tablets, enables users to lock their devices if stolen.

“Cell phone theft is a major concern here in Minnesota and around the country,” said state Sen. Katie Sieben. “This legislation, which is the first of its kind in the country, will help reduce the likelihood that people will be robbed of their smart phones.”

The law also prohibits retailers from paying cash for used devices, requiring payment to be made in the form of a mailed check, electronic transfer, or store credit.

The wireless carrier industry has, however, asserted that the software leaves phones vulnerable to hacking.

“A kill switch signal could do more harm than good. It is open to abuse from hackers sending kill switch signals to phones,” said Grant Roughley, a senior forensic analyst at Essential Forensics.


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