Skip to main content

New York State's anti-encryption bill would force phone makers to add a backdoor

Best Phablets Apple iPhone 6 Plus
Smartphones sold inside New York might be less safe than the rest of the country, if a new encryption bill is passed in the state. The bill would force manufacturers or operating system providers to decrypt and unlock smartphones for law enforcement and other authorities, creating a backdoor to surpass the encryption.

Introduced earlier this year, the bill would penalize manufacturers $2,500 for every device that does not comply with the law, according to Onthewire. New York State Assembly members who created the bill claim the it is in the best interests of New York State residents, citing terrorists and criminals who use encryption to avoid law enforcement as ample reason for the bill to be passed.

Related Videos

“The fact is that, although the new software may enhance privacy for some users, it severely hampers law enforcement’s ability to aid victims,” notes on the bill say. “All of the evidence contained in smartphones and similar devices will be lost to law enforcement, so long as the criminals take the precaution of protecting their devices with passcodes. Of course they will do so. Simply stated, passcode-protected devices render lawful court orders meaningless and encourage criminals to act with impunity.”

The bill is currently in committee at the New York State Assembly, and the next step to enactment is a move to the floor calendar, after which the state assembly and senate will vote on the controversial bill. At this point, it’s unclear how much support exists for the proposal or if it will be passed.

After Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency (NSA) was conducting mass surveillance on U.S. and foreign citizens alike in 2013, many Americans took a pro-encryption stance. In response, Apple and Google both implemented encryption on iOS and Android, respectively, ensuring that nobody is able to read or listen in on private conversations. However, some members of the U.S. government and FBI are strongly against encryption, claiming that it impedes law enforcement from investigating suspects.

Apple has taken a very aggressive stance against backdoors and government surveillance, with Tim Cook speaking out against the Obama Administration’s lack of commitment to encryption and venting frustration at the UK’s Investigatory Powers Bill.

It will be interesting to see if Apple continues to do business in New York if the bill is passed, since Apple would need to either create a backdoor for law enforcement or remove the encryption entirely from iPhones and iPads. We’ll keep you updated on news of the bill here.

Editors' Recommendations

The EU is preparing an App Store change that Apple won’t like
App Store displayed on an iPhone 14 Pro against a pink background

The EU is narrowing its focus on Apple's App Store, a new report says. Coming from the Financial Times, which cites three sources familiar with the matter, the body now plans to focus on Apple's ban against linking to subscriptions off the App Store. The EU confirmed this report in an update to its statement of objections shared on Tuesday morning.

Where this policy might have been merely annoying at first, the color of it changed once Apple began offering competitors to rival services it had banned from advertising in the store.

Read more
Apple’s security trumps Microsoft and Twitter’s, say feds
Apple's Craig Federighi speaking about macOS security at WWDC 2022.

Apple has long held a reputation for rock-solid security, and now the U.S. government seemingly agrees after praising the company for its security procedures. At the same time, the feds have suggested Microsoft and Twitter need to pull their socks up and make their products much more secure for their users, according to CNBC.

In a speech given at Carnegie Mellon University, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Jen Easterly pointed to Apple as a company that took security and accountability seriously, and suggested other companies should take note.

Read more
A new Android phone with a crazy camera might crush the Galaxy S23
The Xiaomi 13 Pro held in a person's hand.

The Xiaomi 13 Pro will be the brand's first phone with a Leica-tuned camera to launch internationally — after it decided to keep the Xiaomi 12S Ultra for China only. Xiaomi and Leica teamed up last year after the famed camera maker parted ways with longtime collaborator Huawei, and that means there are big boots to fill.

More than that, the technical specification and design have to be strong enough to take on the excellent Samsung Galaxy S23 Plus, its biggest current rival, or the very similar OnePlus 11. We've used the phone for a few days prior to its announcement at Mobile World Congress (MWC) 2023 to see if it has the strength to crush the competition. Is the Xiaomi 13 Pro up to the task, or will the price scupper its chances?
Xiaomi 13 Pro: powerful specifications

Read more