California seeks to ban the sale of encrypted cellphones in 2017

California seeks to ban the sale of encrypted cellphones in 2017
Credit: California Statewide Law Enforcement Association

Apple is battling law makers on its home turf as California’s state assembly considers a bill that will ban the sale of any smartphones from 2017 if they are encrypted by default.

Spotted by Ars Technica, the bill says that companies would need to ditch disk-level encryption so they could access the back-end if they were required to by law enforcers.

That means all iOS products and most other smart devices would no longer be able to be sold in the state.

The bill sets out plans to fine manufacturers $2,500 per smartphone sold that does not meet the new requirement, an idea neatly borrowed from a similar bill that was filed recently in New York.

In a press conference on the details, the Democrat who introduced the bill, California Assembly member Jim Cooper, suggested this measure was need to help in the fight against human trafficking. Which is a new one.

“You can get a warrant for everything else, but not for a phone or iPad. That’s just mind-boggling,” Cooper said.

The deputy chief district attorney Natalia Lunia added: “Like a lawyer uses his words and a carpenter uses his tools, a pimp uses his phone… It’s rare to have a human trafficking case where a phone is not involved.”

The legislation is far from being a done deal as it has to go through the senate and be signed by the governor, as well as being subject to amendments, but it yet again underlines the gaping difference between industry and political opinion on this issue.

Yet another bill seeks to weaken encryption-by-default on smartphones [Ars Technica]

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