Protect Cell Phone Users from Police Abuse

Target: Jerry Brown, Governor of California

Goal: Repeal and revise law allowing police to remotely shut off mobile devices

The government of California recently implemented a new law mandating the installment of “kill switches” on all mobile smartphones for sale in the state. While the kill switches are primarily a theft deterrent, they will also be remotely accessible to police and other law enforcement officials during certain situations. This leaves millions of mobile phones vulnerable to shutoff at police discretion, which could result in a breach of the basic human right of communication.

Kill switches will now be installed by the manufacturer or retailer in every mobile phone sold in California. They will allow mobile owners to remotely shut off their devices in case of theft, rendering the phone useless. While these kill switches will deter theft by significantly decreasing the resale value of stolen phones, the government has left the switches vulnerable to abuse.

The kill switch law allows police to access the switches remotely, with a court order or under “urgent circumstances,” a term which is broadly defined and open to interpretation by police and courts. Experts worry that the switches could be used to stop individuals from recording police misconduct, and could even deny communications to protesters during mass demonstrations, something that was seen during recent protests in Ferguson, St. Louis, when officers demanded that all phones and recording devices be shut off.

While built-in theft deterrent measures are a useful advancement in the mobile phone industry, it is imperative that they are not left vulnerable to abuse. Your signature will demand that the kill switch law is repealed and revised to reduce the likelihood of abuse.


Dear Governor Brown,

All mobile phones in California will now be fitted with a kill switch thanks to a new state law. The switch will allow telephones to be remotely shut off by their owners, rendering the phone useless in case of theft. Unfortunately, part of the law will allow the police to access these switches, opening the way to possible abuse.

While the new feature may help decrease theft, it also leaves consumers vulnerable to having their communications shut off by police. Experts say that this kill switch could be used during mass protests, stopping citizens from recording and sharing unlawful police conduct. Because of this, I demand that police access to remote kill switches on mobile devices be immediately revoked.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Alex Ragone via Creative Commons

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One Comment

  1. The woman who was beaten for no reason by a CHP officer and the video was grabbed by a passerby’s cell phone was another reason Governor Brown might have to keep this abusive new law. This seems fairly obvious to keep people from policing the police. California has so many problems with this that it’s easier to kill the cell phone than deal with all the pesky media and legal inquiries. I’d rather live without the switch and keep an eye on my phone and not lose it.

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55 Signatures

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