California Joins New York in Effort to Weaken Smartphone Encryption

passcodeAs the argument over smartphone encryption continues on between device manufacturers like Apple, devoted to strong encryption, and U.S. federal government officials pushing for backdoors to access data, several states have gotten involved in the fray.

New York State Assemblymember Matthew Titone introduced a bill last summer that would require smartphone manufacturers to create devices that can be decrypted or unlocked or face fines, and now California State Assemblymember Jim Cooper is following in his footsteps.

Cooper on Wednesday introduced a bill that would require any smartphone manufactured after January 1, 2017 and sold in California to "be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider." Violations carry a $2,500 fee per phone.

Should such a bill pass, it would, like the New York bill, affect both Apple and Google. iOS and Android have default encryption settings that do not allow the companies to access locked customer phones. Starting with iOS 8, Apple ceased storing encryption keys for iOS devices, making it impossible for the company to unlock content on passcode-protected devices under police request.

In a conversation with Ars Technica, Cooper argued that giving local law enforcement officials the tools to access unencrypted smartphones using warrants to fight crimes like human trafficking was not the same as giving the NSA or CIA unfettered access.

"If you're a bad guy [we] can get a search record for your bank, for your house, you can get a search warrant for just about anything," Cooper told Ars in a brief phone call on Wednesday afternoon. "For the industry to say it's privacy, it really doesn't hold any water. We're going after human traffickers and people who are doing bad and evil things. Human trafficking trumps privacy, no ifs, ands, or buts about it."

In a meeting with White House officials last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook urged the Obama administration to issue a strong public statement defending unbreakable encryption and to adopt a "no backdoors" policy.

In all of his recent interviews, Cook has spoken passionately about Apple's commitment to user privacy and its strong stance on encryption. "There have been people that suggest that we should have a backdoor," Cook told Charlie Rose in December. "But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door's for everybody, for good guys and bad guys."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

rdlink Avatar
69 months ago
There are pros and cons for both side. Good debate
There is no justification whatsoever for this. It's overreaching lazy law enforcement.
Score: 76 Votes (Like | Disagree)
zioxide Avatar
69 months ago
Another idiot politician trying to make laws about things they do not understand.


Tim Cook should suspend the entire new Apple Campus construction project until this bill is tossed. Watch how fast the government would cave if it looks like they would lose all that economic benefit of Apple building their new campus there.
Score: 64 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sesnir Avatar
69 months ago

Human trafficking trumps privacy
No, it doesn't, and that's clearly dangerous. For example, it would seem unreasonable to declare that you need to start spying on all Americans to make sure that nobody is participating in human trafficking.

"Yes, we're reading your emails, listening to all of your conversations online and offline and tracking your movements. But we're just trying to make sure you aren't a human trafficker!"
Score: 55 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rdlink Avatar
69 months ago
EFF YOU TOO, CALIFORNIA.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SHirsch999 Avatar
69 months ago
Ok California and NY residents - keep these representatives in your memory when their next election cycle comes around. They're obviously not intelligent enough to understand that these back doors can and will also be used by hackers.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Crosscreek Avatar
69 months ago
Any time you leave a backdoor open someone will find a way in.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Top Stories 57 Feature

Top Stories: Apple Event Next Tuesday, Mini-LED iPad Pro, iPhone Rumors

Saturday April 17, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
It feels like we've been waiting forever for new Apple products, but the wait is almost over as Apple has announced a media event for next Tuesday, so make sure to tune into MacRumors for full coverage of everything Apple announces. While that was the big news this week, we also got some new details on Apple's iPhone plans for 2022 and 2023 courtesy of analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, and we also saw...
flat imac 3d 3 teal

Reliable Leaker Hints Redesigned Colorful iMac to Debut at 'Spring Loaded' Event

Saturday April 17, 2021 4:43 am PDT by
Reliable leaker known as l0vetodream has hinted that Apple may debut its rumored redesigned and colorful iMac at its "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20. In a tweet, the leaker posted an image of Apple's logo used for marketing the upcoming event and an image of the retro rainbow Apple logo alongside the colorful lineup of G3 iMacs. Apple leaker Jon Prosser previously reported that...
duan rui iphone 12 13 notch

New Images Show Smaller iPhone 13 Notch Compared to iPhone 12

Saturday April 17, 2021 11:38 pm PDT by
Leaker known as "DuanRui" has shared more images that could give us our best look yet at Apple's redesigned notch for the iPhone 13. The new pictures follow similar images shared by the leaker last week, but the latest shots include a comparison with the existing iPhone 12 notch. DuanRui posted three images on Twitter that apparently originate from Weibo, although source details remain...
iPad Pro Feature Orange

Wedbush Analysts Say 'Spring Loaded' Event Will Debut New iPads With 'Modest Price Increase,' Along With 'a Few Surprises'

Monday April 19, 2021 6:37 am PDT by
Apple is planning to launch a new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and iPad Pro at its "Spring Loaded" event tomorrow, along with "a few surprises," according to Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analysts Daniel Ives and Strecker Backe explained that the iPad will be the main focus of Apple's "Spring Loaded" event, with new entry-level iPad, iPad mini, and ...
important battery message iphone 11

Some iPhone 11 Users Seeing Increased Battery Health Percentages After iOS 14.5 Recalibration Process

Friday April 16, 2021 6:32 am PDT by
In the sixth beta of iOS 14.5, Apple introduced a recalibration process for the battery health reporting system on the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max to address inaccurate battery health estimates for some users. Apple said this process might take a few weeks to be completed, and now that two weeks have passed since the sixth beta of iOS 14.5 was released, some users are...
third gen Apple pencil leaked video

Video of Alleged Third-Generation Apple Pencil Leaks Ahead of Apple Event

Friday April 16, 2021 6:13 am PDT by
A video purporting to be of the third-generation Apple Pencil has today been shared online, showing a glossy finish that mirrors previous leaks. New ✏️ ready to 🚢 #AppleEvent @TommyBo50387266 pic.twitter.com/s4RCDwDi5M— 漢尼斯·拉斯納 🇨🇳 (@ileakeer) April 16, 2021 The brief video from Twitter account @ileakeer, spotted by 9to5Mac, shows an Apple Pencil with a glossy finish much like the...
iPad Pro

New 12.9-Inch iPad Pro Will Be 0.5mm Thicker to Accommodate Mini-LED Display

Monday April 19, 2021 11:30 am PDT by
The upcoming 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be thicker than the previous-generation version, likely due to the inclusion of the mini-LED display. We've heard several rumors about the change in thickness, and now leaked design images have confirmed it. A source that designs accessories for Apple devices sent MacRumors a series of photos that feature exact dimensions for the new iPad Pro models, and...
parler app

Apple Approves Parler to Return to App Store

Monday April 19, 2021 7:51 am PDT by
Following the removal of the app in January, Apple will now allow the social media app Parler to return to the App Store following changes to how the social media network moderates content, CNN reports. On April 14, in a letter to Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Ken Buck obtained by CNN, Apple said that the app has improved the way it moderates content, and says those changes are "sufficient" for it...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

LTPO Displays Supporting 120Hz Refresh Rates Again Rumored for iPhone 13 Pro Models

Friday April 16, 2021 10:01 am PDT by
The two higher-end "iPhone 13 Pro" models that are coming in 2021 are expected to use LTPO display technology to enable 120Hz refresh rates, according to display analyst Ross Young. Young reaffirmed the detail in a tweet that said he'd heard rumors about only one model featuring LTPO, which he says is inaccurate. Heard some rumors in the industry and media that there would only be one ...
maxresdefault

Hands-On With Anker's MagSafe-Compatible Battery Pack

Thursday April 15, 2021 9:39 am PDT by
Anker, a company known for its range of accessories designed for Apple products, recently came out with one of the first MagSafe-compatible battery packs, so we thought we'd check it out to see how it compares to a standard battery pack. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, Anker's power bank looks like a typical battery pack, but it has magnets built in...