Proposed bill in New York state could allow backdoor access for law enforcement, threatens fines for non-compliance

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Date: Thursday, January 14th, 2016, 09:27
Category: Legal, News, security

Gay Marriage NY

Let the arguments begin.

A new bill proposed in New York could require that all phone manufacturers be required to implement a way for law enforcement agencies to access and decrypt user devices. This bill is somewhat similar to the Investigatory Powers Bill currently being debated in the UK, which Apple has voiced its opposition towards. Apple and Tim Cook have repeatedly stated that government agencies should not have any access to user devices or data, whether be through a built-in backdoor or other means.

The bill is currently making its way through the new York state assembly and specifically states that “any smartphone manufactured on or after January 1, 2016, and sold or leased in New York, shall be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Failure to meet such a requirement would impose a $2,500 on each infringing device.


The bill doesn’t specifically doesn’t give government agencies direct access encrypted data, but implementing such a measure would force it to compromise its stance that there should not be a sacrifice in privacy for national security. In the past, Tim Cook has stated that any decrease in encryption, which this bill would require, would lead to unintended people gaining access to user data. Like the Investigatory Powers Bill run the UK, if passed, Apple would have to stop encrypting devices and technologies like the iPhone, iMessage and FaceTime and provide a backdoor for law enforcement.

Recently, Tim Cook and other Silicon Valley representatives med with White House officials to discuss the use of social media and technology in the fight against terrorism, radicalization, and propaganda. During the meeting, Cook again voiced his stance that there should be in no way, shape, or form, a backdoor to user data. The Apple CEO urged that it is up to the White House to make that ruling and enforce a “no backdoor” policy.

Interestingly, Department of Justice’s response to Apple’s claims that it has no means of accessing data on devices that are protected by passcode has been to state that the DOJ should be able to access these devices because iOS is “licensed, not sold” to customers.

The next step for the bill would be a move to the floor calendar, followed by votes in the assembly and senate.

Part of the bill reads as follows:

“The safety of the citizenry calls for a legislative solution, and a solution is easily at hand. Enacting this bill would penalize those who would sell smart- phones that are beyond the reach of law enforcement.

The fact is that, although the new software may enhance privacy for some users, it severely hampers law enforcement’s ability to aid victims. All of the evidence contained in smartphones and similar devices will be lost to law enforcement, so long as the criminals take the precaution of protecting their devices with passcodes. Of course they will do so. Simply stated, passcode-protected devices render lawful court orders meaningless and encourage criminals to act with impunity.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via 9to5Mac and On The Wire

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