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

(View all)
Avatar
62 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)
Avatar
62 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)
Avatar
62 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)
Avatar
62 months ago
EFF YOU TOO, CALIFORNIA.
Score: 52 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
62 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)
Avatar
62 months ago
Any time you leave a backdoor open someone will find a way in.
Score: 39 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

First iPhone 12 Mini Hands-On Video Surfaces [Update: Video Pulled]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone 12 mini and the iPhone 12 Pro Max aren't set to be available until November 13, but a Romanian YouTuber got his hands on the iPhone 12 mini and showed it off today, offering a size comparison between the iPhone 12 and the 12 mini along with going over some of the device's features. The iPhone 12 mini is identical to the iPhone 12 in design and functionality, but it has a...

Apple References Unreleased 2020 16-Inch MacBook Pro in Boot Camp Update

Monday October 26, 2020 8:42 am PDT by
Last week, Apple released an update for Boot Camp, its utility for running Windows on a Mac. While this update would typically be unremarkable, several of our readers noticed that the release notes reference an unreleased 2020 model of the 16-inch MacBook Pro. While this could easily be a mistake, the 16-inch MacBook Pro is nearly a year old, so it is certainly a worthy candidate for a...

After Mocking Apple, Samsung May Remove Power Adapter From Galaxy S21 Box

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:29 pm PDT by
Samsung's Galaxy S21, coming in 2021, may not include a power adapter or headphones in the box, according to reports from Korean media sites highlighted by SamMobile. Rumors earlier this year also said that Samsung was considering removing these accessories from future smartphone models, but that didn't stop Samsung from mocking Apple for selling the iPhone 12 models without a power adapter...

Report: Apple Silicon iMac Featuring Desktop Class 'A14T' Chip Coming First Half of 2021

Tuesday October 27, 2020 4:14 am PDT by
The first iMac powered by Apple Silicon is set to arrive in the first half of next year and will feature a desktop class "A14T" chip, according to Chinese-language newspaper The China Times. Codenamed "Mt. Jade," Apple's first custom-made desktop processor will be twinned with its first self-developed GPU, codenamed "Lifuka," both of which are being produced using TSMC's 5-nanometer process, ...

iPhone 12 Ceramic Shield Still 'Scratches at Level 6 With Deeper Grooves at Level 7' in Mohs Hardness Test

Wednesday October 28, 2020 7:10 am PDT by
iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models feature a new Ceramic Shield front cover that is "tougher than any smartphone glass," according to Apple, but the displays on the devices still have similar scratch resistance as previous iPhones based on a new test. Zack Nelson today shared his much-anticipated iPhone 12 Pro durability test on his YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, and based on the Mohs...

2020 iPad Air vs. iPad Pro: Hands-On Comparison

Tuesday October 27, 2020 3:03 pm PDT by
Apple announced the new 2020 fourth-generation iPad Air in September, but the new tablets just started shipping out to customers last Friday. We picked one up and thought we'd do a hands-on comparison with the iPad Pro, which was last updated in March, because both tablets are about as powerful and share many similarities. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design and ...

MagSafe Charger Only Charges at Full 15W Speeds With Apple's 20W Power Adapter [Updated]

Monday October 26, 2020 3:38 pm PDT by
Alongside the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro models, Apple introduced a new MagSafe charger that attaches to the magnetic ring in the back of the devices, providing up to 15W of charging power, which is double the speed of the 7.5W Qi-based wireless charging maximum. Apple does not provide a power adapter with the $39 MagSafe charger, requiring users to supply their own USB-C compatible option. Apple...

Apple Files Mystery 'Personal Computer' With Placeholder 'B2002' Name in Bluetooth Product Database

Tuesday October 27, 2020 12:36 pm PDT by
Last week, a listing appeared in the Bluetooth product database for an Apple product with a placeholder name "B2002" and a model number of "TBD." MacRumors was alerted to the listing by health and fitness tech website MyHealthyApple. The product is filed under the "personal computer" category, which Apple has used for previous Mac and iPad listings in the database, so it is hard to pinpoint...

Apple Releases First macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 Beta to Developers [Update: Public Beta Available]

Wednesday October 28, 2020 10:15 am PDT by
Apple today seeded a new macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 beta to developers for testing purposes, with the new beta replacing the existing macOS Big Sur 11 beta 10 update that was released two weeks ago. The macOS Big Sur beta can be downloaded through the Apple Developer Center and once the appropriate profile is installed, subsequent betas will be available through the Software Update mechanism in...

iPhone 12 Models Might Support Reverse Charging of Future Apple Accessories According to FCC Filing

Tuesday October 27, 2020 6:25 pm PDT by
iPhone 12 models could have an inactive wireless charging feature for accessories, according to an FCC filing discovered by VentureBeat's Jeremy Horwitz. In the filing, Apple said that 2020 iPhones support a wireless charging function that will seemingly be enabled for at least one future Apple accessory:In addition to being able to be charged by a desktop WPT charger (puck), 2020 iPhones...