California is now presenting a new bill that, if passed into law, would stop Apple from selling iPhones on its home turf, via ZDNet. The bill requires smartphone manufacturers to sell devices that have backdoors to allow them to be decrypted. Naturally, this affects iPhones which use high-strength security methods and make it practically impossible for anyone including Apple to gain access without the passcode. If this proposed bill sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that. A nearly identical proposition was made in New York state earlier in the month.
Although the bill is only being proposed and isn’t law at this time, it poses a big issue for Apple which is facing pressure from politicians across the US to relax its stance on privacy in favor of security. The California case is especially problematic given the location of Apple’s HQ. It would be very awkward if Apple was barred from selling iPhones in the state where they’re designed.
If the bill came into effect as written, anyone caught buying an iPhone past January 1st, 2017 would be fined $2,500 per device. Naturally, there’s a reasonable chance this will not be instated, or at least delayed for further review. It is nonetheless a worrying trend for users interested in controlling their own information.
Tim Cook and Apple has repeatedly taken a hard-line stance on privacy. Most recently, Cook met with White House officials to encourage them to back Apple. Cook wants government to plainly state that there should be a ‘no backdoors’ ruling regarding consumer electronics. These proposed bills in California and New York fly in the face of that policy.
Along similar lines, the UK is also considering anti-encryption legislation. The Investigatory Powers Bill would require Apple to make ways for iOS devices to be unlockable, letting governments freely access user data with a warrant. For now, the conflict between technology companies and government oversight continues.