California also wants encryption backdoors on smartphones

JC Torres - Jan 21, 2016, 10:00 pm CST
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California also wants encryption backdoors on smartphones

Another US state has added itself to the roster of those fighting for requiring encryption keys to be provided to aid in criminal investigation. Or as others call it, “weakening encryption”. California assemblyman Jim Cooper proposed a new bill that eerily sounded like a similar proposal being made in New York City. The difference, however, is that the purpose isn’t to fight terrorism but to crack down on human trafficking specifically. Still, it’s basically the same mantra that’s being repeated in the US, UK, and France, requiring companies to provide governments with keys when they need them.

The wordings may change from state to state and country to country, but the spirit remains the same. Those proposing new laws would require companies like Apple, Google, Samsung, and others who make mobile devices or mobile platforms to have keys ready for them to get into encrypted devices and systems in the aid of (lawful) investigation. The existence of such keys, however, presumes the existence of backdoors, which is what Apple and cryptography experts have been fighting against.

It is almost ironic that California would be proposing such a change. It was one of if not the first and loudest state to mandate things like a kill switch on smartphones by default in an effort stem smartphone theft. In other words, they would know better than anyone how encryption needs to be bulletproof in order to properly function.

Aside from the impracticality of a vulnerable encryption system, there has also been very little precedent where such locked devices have substantially hindered the interests of justice. In Manhattan, for example, only 74 out of 10,000 cases actually involve locked devices.

Majority, though definitely not all, of the IT industry has sided with Apple against such efforts to weaken security. For them, encryption is an all or nothing thing and if there will be a backdoor, there might as well be no walls at all.

VIA: Ars Technica


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