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​Minnesota beats California to the punch, signs smartphone kill-switch into law

Sean Buckley, @seaniccus
May 14, 2014
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The Governor of Minnesota just signed a bill that could change the cellphone industry forever: a mandatory kill-switch law. The bill was written as a criminal deterrent: if a stolen phone can be remotely disabled, stealing smartphones may become a less lucrative crime. A study conducted at Creighton University suggests that such a measure could save consumers upwards of $2.5 billion a year, but it could prove expensive for carriers. The law has the potential to gut profits from selling cellphone insurance, sure, but implementing a feature for a single state isn't cost effective -- Minnesota's kill-switch requirement might bring the feature to the entire nation.

Minnesota's law closely mirrors an active bill in California, but it goes a step beyond adding carrier features. When the law goes into effect next July it will also limit how retailers can pay customers for their second hand devices, making cash transactions illegal. Stores will have to pay sellers by check, store credit or electronic transfer, securing a paper trail for used (and possibly stolen) devices. With any luck, these measures will make smartphone-focused muggings a thing of the past.

[Shutterstock / Scott Prokop] [Thanks Dustin]

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