Proposed State Bans on Phone Encryption Make Zero Sense

Proposed State Bans on Phone Encryption Make Zero Sense

AMERICAN POLITICS HAS long accepted the strange notion that just a pair of states—namely Iowa and New Hampshire—get an outsize vote in choosing America’s next president. The idea of letting just two states choose whether we all get to have secure encryption on our smartphones, on the other hand, has no such track record. And it’s not a plan that seems to make much sense for anyone: phone manufacturers, consumers, or even the law enforcement officials it’s meant to empower. Last week, a California state legislator introduced a bill that would ban the retail sale of smartphones with that full-disk encryption feature—a security measure designed to ensure that no one can decrypt and read your phone’s contents except you. The bill is the second piece of state-level legislation to propose that sort of smartphone crypto ban, following a similar New York state assembly proposal that was first floated last year and re-introduced earlier this month. Both bills are intended to ensure that law enforcement can access the phones of criminals or victims when their devices are seized as evidence. Those two proposed crypto bans have put another twist in an already tangled debate: The privacy and cryptography community has long opposed any such “backdoor” scenario that gives cops access to encrypted smartphones at the risk of weakening every device’s data protections. But legal and technical experts argue that even if a national ban on fully encrypted smartphones were a reasonable privacy sacrifice for the sake of law enforcement, a state-level ban wouldn’t be. They say, the most likely result of any state banning the sale of encrypted smartphones would be to make the devices of law-abiding residents’ more vulnerable, while still letting criminals obtain an encrypted phone with a quick trip across the state border or even a trivial software update. Read More: WIRED
Back to blog

Leave a comment