Imagine the world where you can’t communicate with the outside world. Your entire source of news or warnings about the dangers lurking around every corner rely entirely on word-of-mouth. Suddenly, your family can’t reach you, your personal information is stolen, and every dollar in your bank account is gone. Worst of all, there’s nothing you can do.
This sounds like something out of a science-fiction movie, but it could easily become a real danger. Times are changing, and along with the technological advances of society, terrorists are advancing too. Since these enemies can gain access to our personal information and hack into our systems, the government has come up with a plan.
In our ever-advancing world of technology, the greatest threats may no longer be disasters taking place in the natural world. Huge parts of our lives rely on Internet access and mobile devices. Having a kill switch to instantly kill all mobile and Internet access in the event of an attack may become a real and necessary feature.
The Proposed Law
(Image via Flickr by Yutaka Tsutano)
In February 2014, Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal (CT), Mazie Hirono (HI), Amy Klobuchar (MN), and Barbara Mikulski (MD) proposed the Smartphone Theft Prevention Act. This law would only be effective in California.
It would require that any cell phone sold in the state of California would need to include software or hardware “that can render inoperable the essential features of the device, as defined when the device is not in the possession of the rightful owner.” This would disable Internet connection not only in mobile phones but in tablets and other devices.
Is it Legal?
Some citizens feel that their rights are being ignored on this matter. However, there have been many times in U.S. history when a president had to take control of national communication systems. In fact, in 1934, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Communications Act. To Protect Against Thieves One of the main reasons this law has been proposed is to protect the innocent from criminals.
According to Senator Amy Klobuchar, “Cell phone theft has become a big business for thieves looking to cash in on these devices and any valuable information they contain, costing consumers more than $30 billion every year and endangering countless theft victims. This legislation will help eliminate the incentives for criminals to target smartphones by empowering victims to take steps to keep their information private; protect their identity and finances, and render the phone inoperable to the thieves.”
Who Does it Affect?
The issue that most people have with this law is that sounds like it could happen at any given time, as though there’s just some gigantic switch sitting under a desk somewhere in the White House that’ll be hit and suddenly the world goes black. It’s not going to be nearly as extreme, as the law would only use this technology in localized areas.
The government has been authorized to target a “localized” area. These locations would be something like a bridge or even an entire city. According to a recent Government Accountability Office report, this law has been proposed since the bombings in London in 2005. Fearing an attack may take place in New York City or a similar city, talks about this law began.
The federal government could only exercise its power to shut (and then restore) Internet and cellphone service in the event of a terrorist attack. They would not be allowed to use this method on random people, it would only be in the event of an emergency. Even the best cell phone plans would be affected by this, but the law would allow these phones to have a feature that could stop from being affected by the kill switch.
Overall, the kill switch could be a good thing. Even with many critics, this law comes with good and bad possibilities. There’s hope that this could be an important step in keeping people safe in the future and with some more time and revisions, it could be an idea that suits everyone. Only time will tell.
Hailey is a recent graduate with a degree in Journalism. Now that she doesn’t face first in books she is trying to travel as much as she can. She writes in her free time between fixing up her new house and teaching people how to live a longer, healthier life.