New York Bill Proposes Backdoors in All Devices

A new formal bill has been put before the New York State Assembly which would fundamentally mandate manufacturers to devise backdoors for their devices.

If approved, the new bill will mandate all smartphone manufacturers including Apple, Samsung, Google, LG and other major manufacturers who develop devices for iOS and Android, to create backdoor access on their devices for law enforcement to decrypt them at will.

The text from the bill reads:

Any smartphone that is manufactured on or before January 1, 2016, and sold or leased in New York, shall be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.

The bill was originally introduced last summer and was recently forwarded to the committee for polishing. The 2016 date is likely to be changed or pushed forward to 2017 or 2018. This is also the second time the bill has been sent to the committee and there’s currently no vote or date scheduled.

It remains to be seen if such a mandate is even possible. Even if New York held firm against the change, it might entice other states to follow similar measures. Even the notion of selling a “Texas” version of a phone would come at substantial costs for the manufacturer, not to mention the burden it would place on all those involved in the production of the device.

The summary of the bill came in a note that revealed the reason behind the monumental measure:

The safety of the citizenry calls for a legislative solution that is easily at hand. Enacting this bill would penalize those who would sell smartphones that are beyond the reach of law enforcement.

The bill was proposed by Assemblyman Matt Titone. He also proposed a fine of $2,500 dollars for every device that doesn’t adhere to the proposed measures.

Technology firms and Silicon Valley as a whole, along with its flag-bearers in Apple and Google have remained firm in their stance about backdoors. Their argument is that as soon as a backdoor is created, the door is also available for hackers to target end-users to steal their data.

Once it’s open, there’s no going back. That’s the argument of those looking to embrace encryption.

Image credit: Pixabay.