Minnesota makes kill switch mandatory for all smartphones

Over in the US, Minnesota has become the first state to introduce so-called kill switch legislation in order to protect against smartphone theft.

This means that every handset must be fitted with anti-theft tech that allows the owner to remotely wipe and disable the device – and all the sensitive data on it – with the flick of the proverbial switch. It will then be useless to the thief, and any valuable data will be gone, too.

The bill won't actually go into effect until next year, though, the BBC notes. The legislation stipulates: "Any new smart phone manufactured on or after 1 July, 2015, sold or purchased in Minnesota must be equipped with preloaded anti-theft functionality or be capable of downloading that functionality."

Other US states are attempting to pass kill switch legislation – such as Illinois – and California has also just secured approval on a bill, just behind Minnesota, after having failed to get it through the previous month.

Those who've argued against the kill switch have done so on the grounds of potential mishaps such as accidental wiping, or indeed the possibility of someone maliciously using the feature against the owner of the phone.

However, phones on the market today already offer these sort of facilities – such as Apple's iPhone, with Find My iPhone – if the users enable and make use of them, that is.

An all-pervading smartphone kill switch would likely be the biggest asset in terms of the business world and BYOD – which obviously comes with its own security risks, in having data pertaining to the company on personal devices.

However, as we discussed in our feature on BYOD yesterday, this brings its own issues – who would control the kill switch, the business, or the employee and owner of the phone? Realistically, it would have to be the latter – and for further discussion on this topic, see our closer look at BYOD security.