As cellphones increasingly become the target of theft, Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar intends to introduce federal legislation that would prevent thieves from accessing private data.
Klobuchar's proposal would give victims of smartphone theft the ability to wipe any personally identifiable or financial information from the phone and render it inoperable.
According to a news release from Klobuchar's office, one in three robberies in the U.S. involve phone theft, resulting in a more than $30 billion cost to consumers.
Klobuchar sent a letter late last month to the heads of Sprint, Verizon, AT&T and US Cellular asking the companies if they have included a “kill switch” in their phones and to explain why or why not.
In Minnesota, those targeting cellphones at the Mall of America and the University of Minnesota's Twin Cities campus pose a public safety threat.
Just last month, former Minneapolis mayoral candidate Mark Andrew made headlines after he was beaten for his iPhone outside a coffee shop at the Megamall.
Areas on and around the U of M campus have experienced an uptick in crime where several students have been targeted by criminals for their smartphones and laptop computers. The university announced a new public safety initiative Tuesday in response to the increase in robberies last fall.
Klobuchar is visiting campus Tuesday afternoon to discuss her effort to crack down on cellphone thefts.
Locally, state Rep. Joe Atkins plans to introduce a similar bill in the Minnesota Legislature that would allow people to remotely disable a lost or stolen smartphone.