How the Kill Switch Law Affects Businesses

By Jessica Oaks

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In this 21st century, running a sound business means embracing and incorporating the latest technology available. Company mobile phones are often provided to employees to check, receive and send emails remotely, access and share documents, and even update a company’s social media feed. The amount of confidential corporate data contained in a smart phone is copious. If it lands in the wrong hands, a thief could pose a serious threat.

Beginning July 1, 2015, a mobile “kill-switch” law will take effect in California that will require all smart phones made in the state to include a default kill-switch function. 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. Approximately 40 percent of robberies in major cities involve stealing of mobile communication devices. If this law works, the West Coast state’s mandate could spark a revolution in the mobile device industry. The rest of the nation could follow suit by implementing the same regulations. Businesses could be impacted positively, and even negatively, from kill switch enforcement. 

The use of a kill switch would render a phone useless to an unauthorized user, removing the motivation to steal it in the first place. This is a great security measure for businesses. There is a possibility data thieves could figure out how to wipe a phone even if it has a kill switch. However, recent technological developments  include Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor chips. These are being built to lock phones straight from the hardware, in addition to the software component, offering an extra layer of security.

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On top of the secure data factor the kill switch ensures that small businesses on a tighter budget will 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, allowing each organization to feel safer knowing they can protect private company information. In congruence with the projected overall decrease in phone theft, a decrease in overhead to replace lost and stolen smart phones is also 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, so it’s no surprise some are weary of having a government-mandated law that could affect corporate communications. 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. This regulation will give businesses another way to guard their information from unwanted eyes.

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