Kill switch bill may be theft fix

Amy Klobuchar’s kill switch bill could reduce the rising wave of cellphone thefts nationwide.

Responding to the rising issue of smartphone thefts, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., announced at a press conference last week her plans to introduce a bill requiring cellphone manufacturers to include a “kill switch” on their products.

The switch would enable owners to disable their smartphone and erase saved data if the phone is stolen.

Klobuchar, who held her press conference at Coffman Union, told reporters, “I think there has to be a clear statement from the state as well from the Congress that this is a serious theft, and we need to have laws that are as sophisticated as those who are breaking them,” the Minnesota Daily reported Jan. 27.

University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler wrote a letter to Klobuchar on Jan. 21 supporting the measure, citing the “increase in off-campus thefts, primarily related to wireless devices.” The Daily reported Jan. 23 that University police have sent 17 alerts for 23 crimes this school year, up from recent years.

The measure, which Klobuchar plans to introduce to Congress in a few weeks, is a practical approach to reducing the incentive for criminals to steal smartphones. If the majority of phones can be immediately disabled from another device and rendered useless, there will be little for potential thieves to gain.

Once the bill is officially introduced, it’s likely that various interest groups representing cellphone manufacturers will present the measure as an example of government overreach. We hope members of Congress realize that the compelling interest of the government to reduce the number of people who are mugged for their smartphone outweighs the costs voiced by industry lobbyists.

Klobuchar’s kill switch measure would reduce the demand for stolen smartphones, and we hope her fellow members of Congress support it.