Should our government have a “kill switch” to turn off cell phone communication?
Well, if you live in California, that may soon be reality. Last week, the legislature in that state passed a bill requiring all new smartphones to include the ability to remotely render them inoperable. Although the measure was introduced as an effort to fight against smartphone theft, the Center for Democracy & Technology warns that this “kill switch” could also be used to disrupt protests.
The new law includes a provision that allows the government to shut down cell phone communication with court approval, and an “emergency” exception that allows officials to bypass the courts. During the Arab Spring in the Middle East, we saw how smartphones and social media connected protesters and strengthened a movement. And, the past few weeks in Ferguson, Missouri have shown how social media and cell phone cameras are just as important here in the United States.
No government should have the power to limit communications between its citizens, especially not here in the “home of the free.” Our Constitution guarantees the right of free speech and free exchange of ideas, and we must say “no” to any kill switch bill that threatens these important rights.