The war on encryption continues, and as usual, the politicians trying to force companies like Apple and Google to stop encrypting their products are claiming that it’s all being done for the sake of national security and public safety. The latest such proposed legislation comes from Apple’s home state, much to Tim Cook’s dismay, I’m sure, and would require smartphones manufactured after the end of 2016, and sold in California, to be capable of being decrypted by either their manufacturer or their operating system provider. Assemblymember Jim Cooper even used the old “think of the children” ploy when he introduced the bill on Wednesday, and claimed that the passing of the bill would ensure that human traffickers would be brought to justice. Man, it’s a good thing criminals and terrorists can’t just find other ways to enjoy the security of encryption… oh wait… they can.
How do you fight human trafficking? Prohibit the sale of smartphones with impenetrable encryption. At least, that’s one California lawmaker’s plan. Assemblymember Jim Cooper this week introduced a new bill that would “require a smartphone that is manufactured on or after Jan. 1, 2017, and sold in California, to be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.” If passed by the State Assembly and Senate, then signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the new rule would affect current iOS and Android devices, which are encrypted by default, so not even Apple or Google can crack them. “Human traffickers are using encrypted cell phones to run and conceal their criminal activities,” Cooper said in a statement on Wednesday. “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, who was a captain with the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department for 30 years, acknowledged to Ars Technica this week that the legislation would render the sale of his own iPhone illegal in the state. But that hasn’t stopped him from encouraging the change. “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,” Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert said in a statement.