Minnesota enacted the nation's first law requiring smartphones and tablets sold in the state to have a remote shut-off feature as a way to deter theft.
The "kill switch" bill was signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. The measure takes full effect in July 2015, but advocates are hoping the wireless industry will make technology updates sooner.
The Minnesota bill also has an element that bars retailers from paying cash for used devices and requires them to keep records on those transactions. Merchants dealing in secondhand phones would have to document device information, require sellers to present identification and demand people attest that the phone they are turning in isn't stolen. In place of cash, sellers would receive a mailed check, electronic transfer or store credit.
Similar bills are on the march in California, New York and Illinois. Federal legislation also is pending. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association recently announced its members would strive to make the deactivation technology standard on phones manufactured after the middle of next year.