May 25, 2020 | Updated: 10:04 PM EDT

Manhattan DA Proposes Local Bill on Smartphone Encryption

Jan 15, 2016 12:19 AM EST


NY Assembly bill 8093 “relates to the manufacture and sale of smartphones on and after January 1, 2016 that are capable of being decrypted and unlocked by the manufacturer or its operating system provider,” and, if passed, would compel smartphone makers to create encryption backdoors in the devices that they manufacture.

Passcode-protected Google and Apple phones are set to be unlocked only by legitimate users of the device.  DA Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. of New York Country intends to change that. During the 6th Annual Financial Crimes and Cybersecurity Symposium in November, he impressed that it is not Apple’s or Google’s responsibility to keep the public safe, but the law enforcers. The Deputy explains that the bill intends to make smart devices be receptive to searches, that is, they can be unlocked when “served with a search warrant.”

The policy paper  DA Vance presented is considered the first distinct proposal in this genre since FBI Director James Comey stirred the Crypto Wars in response to Google’s and Apple’s decision to encrypt data by default in their devices, making it “impossible for law enforcement officials to collect evidence from smartphones – even when authorities get legally binding search warrants.”

There is contradicting stance on this discussion, and it has already created tension between the tech world as well as the law enforcement. As for tech giants like Apple and Google, headlines abound reinforcing their commitment to encryption. We once heard Apple CEO Tim Cook expressing his perspective on this. “Any back door is a back door for everyone. Everybody wants to crack down on terrorists. Everybody wants to be secure. The question is how. Opening a back door can have very dire consequences," the Executive explains.

In response to the on-going discussion on the possible passing of the bill, concerned citizens have circulated a petition to stop NY Assembly Bill 8903. For a review on the discussions related to encryption, head over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation EFF.

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