This bill would amend the general business law to require any advanced mobile communications device include a technological solution that can render inoperable the essential features of the device, when the device is not in the possession of the rightful owner. The legislation contains additional other mandates on wireless communication device retailers.
Although The Business Council supports efforts to reduce mobile device theft, we cannot support the proposed legislation, because it does not provide a national solution that recognizes consumer preferences, market trends and would be a significant administrative burden.
Furthermore, in April 2014, CTIA and participating wireless companies announced the “Smartphone Anti-Theft Voluntary Commitment." In Part I of the Commitment, each device manufacturer and operating system signatory agrees that new models of smartphones first manufactured after July 2015 for retail sale in the United States will offer, at no cost to consumers, a baseline anti-theft tool that is preloaded or downloadable on wireless smartphones. Part II of the Commitment provides that each network operator that is a signatory commits to permit the availability and full usability of a baseline anti-theft tool to be pre-loaded or downloaded.
The commitment provides a uniform national solution on this issue. This uniformity allows the wireless industry, which manufactures and distributes smartphones nationally, to provide a solution to consumers without regard to where they live, purchase or use their smartphones.
This recent announcement by the wireless industry negates any need for passage of A.3409, but it also does not validate legislative action because such a legislative solution will not allow true consumer choice. The industry has committed to providing this tool to consumers and to law enforcement which will further strengthen the fight against smartphone theft.
In conclusion, the legislation contains special provisions for repair, refurbishing and trade-in programs but it does not contain a special exemption for recycling or donation programs. Many donation programs receive a portion of the monies that come from the sale of donated phones. Very often donated phones are then sold to unrelated 3rd parties to support numerous programs including domestic violence, and soldiers. These programs operated by charities, would not meet the exclusion definitions contained in the legislation.
For these reasons, The Business Council respectfully opposes approval of A.3409.