Proposed California State Assembly Bill could work against smartphone encryption

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Date: Friday, March 11th, 2016, 07:22
Category: Android, Google, iPhone, News, security, Software


For California smartphone users, this hits pretty close to home.

Assembly Bill 1681, a California State Assembly bill, would ban default encryption on all smartphones. The bill, introduced in January by Assemblymember Jim Cooper, would require any smartphone sold in California “to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” This could be even more drastic than what’s going on with Apple’s legal showdown in the San Bernadino iPhone unlocking case.

Both Apple and Google currently encrypt smartphones running their iOS and Android operating systems by default. A.B. 1681 would undo this default, penalizing manufacturers and providers of operating systems $2,500 per device that cannot be decrypted at the time of sale.

Similar proposals have been made by Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., who published a white paper in November 2015 arguing that law enforcement needs to access the contents of smartphones to solve a range of crimes. A nearly identical bill is also pending in the New York State Assembly.

Over in the U.S. Congress, Representative Ted Lieu has introduced H.R. 4528, the ENCRYPT Act, which would definitively preempt state bills like A.B. 1681.

Thus begins an even more localized mess, especially where the balance between privacy and security are concerned, and especially with the amazing plethora of personal data that can be found on almost any given smartphone.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via Electronic Frontier Foundation

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