SACRAMENTO -- A San Francisco lawmaker's proposal to require that all smartphones sold in California come equipped with "kill switches" -- allowing owners to deactivate the device remotely -- cleared an Assembly committee Monday.

"The only way to stop the victimization of innocent cell phone customers is to enable theft-deterrent technology on nearly every new smartphone sold in California, which this legislation will do," said Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, the bill's sponsor.

When the Senate considered Senate Bill 962 several weeks ago, a contentious debate fueled by telecommunications and wireless industry lobbyists nearly derailed the measure, which is also being pushed by San Francisco District Attorney George Gascón.

Now that the bill passed through the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee on a 9-2 vote, it's headed for the Assembly floor, where observers expect another round of heated discussions about its merits.

Leno and Gascón say the legislation is needed to curb a flood of cell phone thefts in major California cities over the past several years that have become increasingly violent.

The bill is backed by a number of statewide law enforcement groups and several industry giants, including Apple and Microsoft, that initially tried to kill the bill.

Contact Jessica Calefati at 916-441-2101. Follow her at Twitter.com/calefati. Read the Political Blotter at IBAbuzz.com/politics.



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