Sections

Weather Forecast

Close
Advertisement

Minnesota to require ‘kill switch’ to erase phone data

Email Sign up for Breaking News Alerts
news Duluth, 55802
Duluth Minnesota 424 W. First St. 55802

ST. PAUL — Minnesota smartphones next year must include a way to disable them when stolen.

Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill into law Wednesday requiring cellphone companies to include “kill switches” on smartphones and connected tablets sold beginning July 1, 2015. This new process will allow owners to disable lost and stolen devices as a way to discourage theft.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“When you take away the worth, you take away the incentives” of thieves, said Rep. Joe Atkins, DFL-Inver Grove Heights.

With Dayton’s signature, Minnesota became the first state to have such a law.

Atkins said he first learned of the issue a year ago when he met his two sons at a University of Minnesota campus-area restaurant. He put his cellphone on the table.

“What are you doing?” one son asked. “You are going to get us killed.”

With that introduction to the problem, Atkins became the most outspoken proponent of the measure.

One out of three thefts nationally now involve a smartphone, and the university’s police chief said the devices are the subject of 62 percent of campus crime. Guns often are involved, Chief Greg Hestness said.

Dayton said that the problem “afflicts people of all ages, of all walks of life.”

Sen. Katie Sieben, DFL-Cottage Grove, said cellphone thefts are frustrating and terrifying for victims.

“It will help reduce cellphone theft in Minnesota,” she declared about the new law.

The bill also forbids businesses from paying cash for phones after police told lawmakers that many thieves who stole phones immediately sold them.

Aside from the value of the phone itself, personal data can be used by thieves.

Other states are considering legislation similar to what Dayton signed. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., has introduced a similar bill in Congress.

Advertisement
Duluth News Tribune (218) 723-5295 customer support
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.
Advertisement
Advertisement
randomness