Federal bill aims to take regulatory power for phone encryption out of state hands

Federal bill aims to take regulatory power for phone encryption out of state hands

A new bipartisan bill introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives aims to bar states from introducing their own bans on smartphone encryption, The Verge reports. At the urging of local district attorney’s offices, assemblymen in New York and California have introduced identical bills that would ban smartphone encryption for phones sold in those states and fine manufacturers for each phone sold with secure disk encryption. While critics argue it wouldn’t be feasible to tailor phone encryption capabilities for specific states, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) have introduced the Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications (ENCRYPT) Act to override state and local government encryption laws, over concerns that having varying bills on encryption would endanger the country and the competitiveness of American companies.
The bill is being considered alongside competing Senate legislation aiming to place federal limits on encryption, as well as another proposal to create a national commission to study encryption, so any fast action on the ENCRYPT Act is unlikely, but the move shows privacy advocates have some support at the federal government level. Apple didn’t comment directly on the new bill, but CEO Tim Cook is a vocal advocate for digital privacy and the company has repeatedly resisted efforts by law enforcement to undermine the security of user data.

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