California Legislator Says Encryption 'Threatens Our Freedoms' Calls For Ban On Encrypted Cell Phones
from the something-about-defecating-vis-a-vis-eating-location dept
If all goes according to these legislators’ plans, Flyover Country will have something the coasts don’t: encrypted cell phones. Because there’s always room for one more bad idea, California assemblyman Jim Cooper is following up New York assemblyman Matthew Titone’s call for a ban on encrypted phones with one of his own.
California assembly member Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove) introduced the legislation, bill 1681, that would require any smartphone manufactured “on or after January 1, 2017, and sold in California after that date” to be “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.”
Any smartphone that couldn’t be decrypted on demand would subject a seller to a $2,500 fine.
Cooper is either fearless or stupid, given that he’s dropping this legislation bomb deep in the heart of Tech Country. Odds are on the latter, though, as he’s tying his proposal to his crusade against human trafficking — something that generally means nothing more than increased persecution of sex workers with very little to show in terms of results. Preying on ignorance and fear never lost anyone any votes.
At a press conference today, Assemblymember Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), along with the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office, crime victim’s families, and bill supporters, announced the introduction of AB 1681. The bill will allow law enforcement to investigate and prosecute suspected criminals and criminal organizations that are involved in human trafficking and other serious crimes.
“Human traffickers are using encrypted cell phones to run and conceal their criminal activities,” said Assemblymember Cooper. “Full-disk encrypted operating systems provide criminals an invaluable tool to prey on women, children, and threaten our freedoms while making the legal process of judicial court orders, useless,” Cooper added.
You hear that, citizens? Encryption “threatens our freedoms,” which is a really weird way to rephrase limiting cell phone buyers’ choices and forcing them to select less secure options.
Of course, a prominent member of local law enforcement was on hand to offer support for the encrypted phone ban.
“I support an anti-encryption policy that will restore the ability to access cellphone data by a court ordered search warrant. If smartphones are beyond the reach of law enforcement, crimes will go unsolved, criminals will not be held accountable, victims will not receive justice and our ability to protect our children and community will be significantly compromised,” said Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert.
Yes, this heartwarming concern for “victims receiving justice” and “unsolved crimes” is the same heartwarming concern that led to a backlog of more than 1,500 rape kits in her jurisdiction, some dating back more than a decade — a backlog that only began to be cleared thanks to activism and legislation.
Cooper’s proposed legislation is basically a word-for-word copy of Titone’s.
A smartphone that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2017, and sold or leased in California, shall be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.
Customers will still be able to implement their own encryption to lock the government out of their phones and, of course, anyone can buy or lease an encrypted phone from an out-of-state retailer and use it in California without fear of reprisal.
Unlike Titone, who appears to be slipping this bill into each legislative session with as little noise as possible, Assemblyman Cooper as least has the courage of his convictions to not only craft this terrible legislation, but also announce its arrival with a press conference. Considering his bill is both anti-consumer and anti-constituent, that’s a pretty bold move. If you’re going to attack your voter base, the least you can do is be transparent about it.