California Joins New York In Wanting To Ban Encrypted Smartphones

Recently, New York had proposed an anti-encryption bill that allows the government backdoor access to your device. Joining the bandwagon is California who has come up with a similar bill, which could require manufacturers to make smartphones that can be decrypted and unlocked. In other words, California’s legislature is considering banning devices that come with unbreakable encryption.

This legislation was introduced by California assembly member Jim Cooper (D-9th) – Assembly Bill 1681. Basically the idea is similar to what New York has proposed, in which it requires all smartphones manufactured “on or after January 1, 2017, and sold in California after that date” to be “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” If devices are found not to comply with these regulations, they could be fined $2,500 (presumably per device).

If the bill becomes law, the bill would affect all iPhones with iOS 8 and above, as well as many Android devices (especially the ones that come installed with Android 6.0).

The bill might force a pause in sales for Apple in its hometown. The iPhone maker added strong encryption to its devices last year, and Google followed suit shortly afterwards with similar encryption on Android. Even though many in the U.S. government believe that encryption hinders law enforcement investigations, Apple and Google argue that it’s a matter of user privacy.

Apple shows no signs of stopping its fight for encryption on smartphones, either. The company’s CEO Tim Cook recently questioned President Obama‘s stance on privacy and surveillance, and he has commented on various pieces of anti-encryption legislation in the United Kingdom and United States in the past. It seems likely that Google and Apple will both fight against the bill, though neither have commented on the new anti-encryption legislation.

Despite Cook’s strong support for encryption, a $2,500 charge each time an iPhone doesn’t have a backdoor might force Apple to change its tune, unless Apple plans to boycott California and not sell iPhones in the state until the law is reversed.

The bill must pass the assembly and the state senate, and be signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown (D).

It does seem like a long shot for California, considering some of the biggest tech companies are based in Silicon Valley. At least in New York’s case, its citizens can sign up on the state’s official website to express their approval or disapproval of the new legislation by clicking on the “Aye” on “Nay” buttons. The aim is when a senator comes to vote, they can see from their website’s dashboards which way their constituents want their lawmaker to vote.

As of now, California doesn’t have such a site, which means that if you disagree with the bill, you will still have to contact your local representatives in California directly.