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.
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
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.