In a time where the organization of terrorist attacks and crime in general is carried out over the internet, some people believe it’s time to stop treating smartphone “backdoors” like a bad thing. Well, what if someone told you that encryption in general hurts the world?
That’s what New York lawmakers have communicated, anyway, as they have submitted a new bill proposal which would ban the sale of fully encrypted smartphones. To be more specific, the issue isn’t with encryption itself, but with operating systems where the vendor themselves can’t even break their own encryption (which is the case with both iOS and, as of Marshmallow, Android). The bill would seek to charge Google and Apple up to $2,500 per devices sold which don’t adhere to the new law.
Of course, a law proposal is one thing. It’ll have to make its way through state senate and assembly votes before it even reaches the governor’s desk, and you can bet privacy advocates — along with Apple and Google — will look to challenge its passing the entire way.
The argument for the lawmakers will be that this isn’t necessarily a backdoor — it isn’t, technically — but simply a safeguard to keep from hitting dead roads in sensitive investigations which could save lives. Whether they can convince their vote-toting peers of that fact will determine its fate.
One thing many people will fear is that while this law is only being considerd for one state, it could be the precursor to more state governments looking to pass similar bills, and may even garner the attention of federal lawmakers. The law itself is troubling enough, but the precedence it sets is what folks are really worried about.
All that said, even if the bill somehow manages to pass, it won’t come without any regulation. The government won’t be able to tap into your phone without going through the proper channels and procedures (which typically require warrants, which require probable cause), for instance.
The worry comes from people who are afraid of baddies using this as an opportunity to do, well, bad things. That’s a valid concern, and it’s our hope that our right to privacy and protection won’t be stripped away simply because law enforcement wants every shortcut possible to make their lives easier.