Though it would be far more meaningful at the state level, Supervisor London Breed has a backup plan for some cell phone kill switch legislation in San Francisco. State Senator Mark Leno has a similar bill that he thought was going to pass the Senate two weeks ago, which would require all cell phones sold in California to have the anti-theft technology. That bill died in its first call to a vote, but he hopes to gather a few more votes and bring it back to the floor this Thursday.
At Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting, Breed made a formal request that the City Attorney draft local legislation prohibiting the sale of cell phones and tablets that don't have kill-switch technology. This may be partly an effort on her part to steal some of Leno's thunder if his bill can't make it, but she cites too much pressure from the tech titans who want people to keep having to replace their phones. It's estimated now that 50% of all robberies in the city involve cell phones and tablets and Breed makes an example of the case of an 18-year-old woman, only 5 feet tall, who was punched in the back of the neck on Eddy Street and had her phone stolen.
Efforts to push the communications industry for this technology, which is widely available in other countries, have been thwarted so far, and S.F. District Attorney George Gascon has been rallying support around this cause for a while now.
As Breed writes in a release:
The technology already exists. It can be implemented. And its widespread adoption will reduce, if not eliminate, the value of stolen phones on the black market. It will take away the incentive for a thief to punch a young woman in the back of the neck and snatch her phone.
I want cell phone safety to be statewide, ultimately nationwide. But in the meantime, in the interest of public safety, and in case SB962 does not pass, we should act here and now.
It goes without saying that if Leno succeeds in getting his legislation through on Thursday, that will obviate the need for a new law in S.F.
But you can't blame a lady for trying.