The New York State Senate has began to re-analyze a bill which aims to eliminate strong smartphone encryption for all devices sold or leased in the Empire State.
If the encryption bill gets the green light, smartphones sold within New York could have more exposure to hacking than those in the rest of the United States. The bill wants OEMs and OS providers to embed backdoor in their smartphones, so that the items could be easily unlocked by law enforcement officers and other state authorities if necessary.
“Encryption threatens to lead us all to a very, very dark place. The place that this is leading us is one that I would suggest we shouldn’t go without careful thought and public debate,” James Comey, FBI Director declared back in 2014.
The bill states that it aims to tax electronics manufacturers $2,500 per rogue device.
As it is expected, members of the New York State Assembly are citing public interest as the bill’s raison d’être. They point out that terrorist threats and criminal activities could be easily contained, should the legal initiative pass.
Members of the Assembly note that criminals will take every chance to hide evidence from police officers and smartphone encryption gives them ample opportunity to do so. In the opinion of some legislators, password-protected devices “encourage criminals.”
Currently, the New York State Assembly is still debating the bill in committee, and the next procedural step is to have it on the floor calendar. Following this step, the senate and state assembly members will vote on the double-edged bill. The assembly bill was drafted earlier last year and should be passed in 2016. The changes could take effect starting Jan. 1, 2017 or 2018.
No official information exists on the level of political or public support for the new legislation.
Three years ago, whistleblower Edward Snowden unveiled the staggering level of surveillance that the National Security Agency (NSA) exposed its citizens and non-citizens to.
Since then, a big segment of the American population started backing mobile encryption. Both Google and Apple upped the security and encryption levels on Android and iOS, catering to the privacy of their customers.
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashed out against encryption on several occasions, firmly opposing back doors.
If the New York bill passes and mobile device manufacturers still refuse to remove the encryption from their handsets, their profits in the state could plunge. However, New Yorkers could simply shop for their favorite Android or iOS in Philadelphia or Ohio, meaning that the OEMs such as Apple could stick to their principles and keep their sales numbers undented.