Smartphones have had kill switches for a long time now. Apple’s famous “Find my Phone” feature has been around for years for iOS users, while Android Device Manager is a bit newer for us Android folks. Either app allows you to lock or wipe your device remotely in case it’s lost or stolen. Starting next year, such a system will be required by California law.
California’s smartphone “kill switch” bill really isn’t anything that will affect most users. It basically requires a kill switch to be present and to prompt the user during first time setup so that the user is aware of it. It doesn’t make it mandatory to use and you can still disable it, but the user must be notified of the feature and understand what it does.
This law will go into effect on July 1, 2015 and will apply to all smartphones sold after the first of January of the same year. Older devices that cannot be modified to feature this behavior are exempt, but most devices can be updated with this feature. This will probably make it to phones nationwide, as no manufacturer will have California-specific software, so expect to see it on your next smartphone in 2015.