New York Bill Would Force Apple and Other Manufacturers to Decrypt Smartphones
If companies do not comply, they will have to pay a fine of $2,500 per device
The New York state assembly is currently working on a bill that would require smartphone manufacturing giants like Apple and others to decrypt and unlock devices to aid law enforcement. Any smartphone sold or leased in New York after January 1, 2016 would have to be capable of being decrypted or unlocked by its manufacturer or OS provider. There is not much that manufacturers can do to stop this because according to the fine details, if manufacturers or OS providers do not comply, they would be subject to pay a financial penalty of $2,500 per device.
As huge as Apple is in terms of market capitalization, even it cannot afford to pay a fine of $2,500 per device sold, seeing as how the company’s iPhone 6s Plus is being solid $949.99 for the 128GB (the unlocked model, might we add). Assemblyman Matthew Titone had introduced the bill last summer and referred it to committee on January 6. In his notes, Titone has justified the decryption of smartphone security by citing the safety of citizens as he states the following in the bill:
“The safety of the citizenry calls for a legislative solution, and a solution is easily at hand. Enacting this bill would penalize those who would sell smart- phones that are beyond the reach of law enforcement. The fact is that, although the new software may enhance privacy for some users, it severely hampers law enforcement’s ability to aid victims. All of the evidence contained in smartphones and similar devices will be lost to law enforcement, so long as the criminals take the precaution of protecting their devices with passcodes. Of course they will do so. Simply stated, passcode-protected devices render lawful court orders meaningless and encourage criminals to act with impunity.”
While the final draft of the bill has been made, it now has to be moved to the floor and be voted on in both the assembly and senate. CEO of Apple, Tim Cook has vehemently spoken out against putting backdoors in encryption technology, stating that if ethical hackers are able to gain access, then so will those that want to commit nefarious acts. Even last month, Apple had criticized the proposed Investigatory Powers bill in the UK, which summarizes that users’ website history will be tracked and a backdoor into encryption will be added.
There is still hope for Apple and other manufacturers who want to continue providing users with unmatched encryption because the bill still has to be voted. It a majority does not give the green light on the bill, then you can say that security is still in good hands.