By Shane Watson

In this 21st century, running a well-sound business means embracing and incorporating the latest technology available to utilize for work production. Company mobile phones are often provided to employees so they are able to check, receive and send emails 

remotely, access and share documents via various applications built for business 

purposes, and even update a company’s social media feed with relevant posts to engage 

customers. The amount of confidential corporate data that lies on a smart phone is 

copious however, and if it lands in the wrong hands, a thief could pose a detrimental 

threat on a business.

Beginning July 1, 2015, a mobile kill-switch law will take effect in California that will 

require all smart phones made within the state include a kill-switch function by default. 

“Kill switch” technology enables phone owners to remotely shut off or wipe their mobile 

device when lost or stolen. The main purpose of the legislation is to prevent and 

discourage smart phone theft, which has become a significant issue in the recent era of 

internet-connectivity emergence – approximately 40% of robberies in major cities 

involve stealing of mobile communications devices. If it works to reduce the number of 

crimes in this sector, the West Coast state’s mandate could spark a revolution in the 

mobile device industry and the rest of the nation could follow suit by implementing the 

same regulations. Businesses could be impacted both positively and possibly negatively 

from kill-switch enforcement.  

Related content: Big-data-apps-can-mean-big-business

The implementation of a kill switch would render a phone useless to an unauthorized 

user, removing the intrigue to even steal in the first place, a great reassurance measure 

for businesses. There is a possibility cunning criminals could figure out how to wipe a 

phone even if it has a kill switch but recent technological development spurred by the 

kill-switch law includes Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor chips that are being built to 

lock phones straight from the hardware in addition to the software component, offering 

an extra layer of security. 

On top of the secure data factor the kill switch ensures companies, small businesses on 

a tighter budget could reap extra benefits. Currently, only 39 percent of small businesses have 

the ability to remotely wipe data from lost or stolen company smart phones versus 54 percent 

of large enterprises. With the government regulation, access to a baseline anti-theft tool 

would become available to all businesses, small and large alike, allowing each and every 

organization to feel safer knowing they can protect private company information if 

found by a non-authorized person. In congruence with the projected overall decrease in 

phone theft, a decrease in overhead to replace lost/stolen smart phones is also highly 

likely. Not to mention, employees can feel less of a burden should their mobile device 

go missing.   

With the good, there is potential for bad. Many businesses often want less government 

interference when trying to run shop (think lower taxes and less restrictions that may 

hinder economic growth), so it’s no surprise some are weary of having a government-

mandated law that could indirectly affect corporate communications. Abuse of power 

could be executed. By allowing the government to impose a rule that all carriers must 

follow, it is essentially authorized to technically control all phones. This could me cutting 

off communication services or accessing private data in extreme cases. Not to say 

businesses are conducting illegal activities, but the kill-switch order arguably removes 

the right to privately operate without any threat of any body, person or government, 

abusing technical authority. 

Although there is always a chance for unwelcomed government intervention in business 

operations, the kill switch law should in general be a very positive change for 

companies. Protecting proprietary data is at the forefront of concerns for almost every 

establishment and the regulation would give businesses another way to guard their 

information from unwanted eyes.

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