California Law Expected to Deter Smartphone Thefts

Today's topics include the early impact of California's kill-switch law, facial recognition and fingerprint software testing from MasterCard, the launch of Oracle Commerce Cloud and Renee James stepping down at Intel.

Smartphone thefts in California are expected to continue a downward trend now that the state's new "kill-switch" law went into effect on July 1. The law, which requires every new cell phone sold in the state to prompt consumers to enable kill switches as the default setting during the initial setup of their devices, aims to make stolen phones worthless so that thieves will be deterred from robbing citizens of their phones. A recent study by Consumer Reports found that smartphone thefts dropped to 2.1 million in 2014, down one-third from 3.1 million in 2013, providing some early evidence that the desired outcome of the kill-switch law is working.

MasterCard is looking at using facial recognition and fingerprints as more secure and simpler ways of authorizing consumer purchases made using mobile devices. The company, one of the largest credit card processing firms in the world, will launch a pilot program this fall with about 500 customers who will use fingerprints and/or facial scans to confirm their identities with MasterCard, enabling their mobile purchase transactions to be approved without having to manually enter passwords or security codes.

Oracle has added yet another component to its growing enterprise cloud-services business. The general-purpose IT giant launched Oracle Commerce Cloud June 29, a center point of the Oracle Customer Experience app portfolio that runs on the Oracle Public Cloud. Oracle describes Commerce Cloud as a flexible and scalable software-as-a-service solution that simplifies IT management. New features include new commerce capabilities and greater customization.

Renee James, a 28-year Intel veteran and the chip maker's president since May 2013, is leaving the company to pursue CEO possibilities at other companies. Intel announced James' upcoming departure July 2 as part of a larger shakeup that will see other executives either being promoted, retiring or leaving the company. James will remain with Intel until January to help with the transition. In a letter to employees, James lauded Intel for its technology and innovation. She also said that being able to lead her own company is an important step for her.

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