California Law Proposal Would Require Encryption Backdoors on Smartphones Sold in California

Posted by at 7:38 am on January 22, 2016

California-FlagA bill presented in California is seeking to force smartphone manufacturers to add backdoors to their devices, if they are to be sold in the state. Introduced by Democrat assembly member Jim Cooper, bill 1681 echoes a similar bill proposed in New York, aiming to make it easier for law enforcement officials to gain access to data on mobile devices, though simultaneously making it potentially easier for others to access the same encrypted data.

The basic structure of the bill is identical to the New York version, notes ZDNet. Devices manufactured “on or after January 1, 2017, and sold in California after that date” must be “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” Anyone caught selling smartphones that do not include this measure will be subjected to a $2,500 fine.

The bill is still a proposal at this point, and is far from becoming a state law. It needs to go through the assembly and the state senate, and then ultimately signed by Governor Jerry Brown (D) before coming into force.

Both the California bill and that of New York are attempts by government officials to try and force technology companies to comply more willingly with law enforcement, and make the encryption easier to bypass. Tech companies continually argue that weakening the encryption for the government weakens the encryption as a whole, making the devices less secure for their users.

 

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