Legislation Calls on Cell Phone Kill Switches

Created: 02/13/2014 6:41 PM
By: Steph Crock

(ABC 6 News) -- Nearly one-in-three robberies involve cell phone theft, with criminals targeting smartphones for their high resale value and for the personal information they contain. Now, new federal legislation backed by Senator Amy Klobuchar calls on cell phone carriers to help with the problem.

"Every day, I have it on all the time,"  said Ray Onnasack.

"I check it like every couple minutes," said McKenzie Bangasser.

It's like you can’t go anywhere without it, and usually there's a moment of panic when you realize you left your smartphone at home. "I feel lost and out of place," said Onnasack.

"I’ll usually drive back and go get it," said Bangasser.

Now a days we don’t just use smart phones to call and text, it's where we check emails, pay bills, and store our personal information, so misplacing it or having it get stolen can be a big deal.

"Most of the time, it's if people would've taken a little bit more time to protect their valuables. If they would've locked the doors to their car, if they would've not left their phone unattended on the lunch table, you know, those are a lot of types of thefts we see with phones," said Capt. John Sherwin with the Rochester Police Department.

It's not just the value of the phone that concerns people now-a-days, it's that personal information that's stored in it. Now, federal lawmakers are proposing phone carriers now install a "kill switch" to wipe the data clean if it goes missing.

"I think that'd be a good idea because there's a lot of information on my phone, like credit card apps," said Bangasser.

"Just to protect your personal information that you might have on there and other things," said Onnasack.

Though it may not stop thieves, police agree it would put victims at ease.

"If the consumer has the ability to wipe their data off their phone, that's at least a piece of mind, that they're not victimized in other ways through identity theft or other types of crimes where their information may be used against them," said Capt. Sherwin.

About a month back, Minnesota State Representative Joe Atkins urged for the same technology to protect stolen smart phones here in the state.