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New Legislation To Prohibit State Bans On Encrypted Smartphones

February 10, 2016 - Written By John Anon

The debate on encryption is one which seems to be really heating up in the U.S and especially at the lawmaker level. Previously, representatives in Congress for both California and New York had been looking to push through bills in their respective states that are designed to stop encrypted phones (encryption which is unbreakable) from being sold in the states in question. This would essentially block ban all Android devices from being sold which do come with such an encryption in effect.

Needless to say, this is a highly contentious topic for both consumers and tech companies like Google and Apple. With security put forward in favor of such a ban and privacy used as an argument against the ban, this is a topic which is fundamentally opinion-dividing. The latest on this is that lawmakers in the U.S House of Representatives are planning to introduce across-party legislation today which would limit the impact of such state proposed bills. The Act which is being spearheaded by Rep.Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) and currently being dubbed the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act’, or more simply put, the “ENCRYPT Act” will prohibit individual states from demanding smartphones do not come equipped with unbreakable encryption.

While on the face of it, it would seem that this is a victory for those who oppose such a state level ban, it does seem that it is a decision based more on practicality than anything else with the Act designed to reflect how individual state-based bans are just not workable in a real-world or practical sense. According to Lieu, “Having 50 states with 50 different encryption backdoors standards or bans is a recipe for disaster for American privacy and competitiveness.” Further adding, “This conversation belongs at the national level“. So while the ENCRYPT Act does look to prohibit any banning of encrypted smartphones at the state level, this is only likely to be a move which opens a much more nationwide debate on the topic and likely, a much more nationwide decision on whether phones which come equipped with unbreakable encryption should be banned or not.