New York Residents Can Vote On Encrypted Device Ban

January 16, 2016 - Written By Derek Dykes

Where there is personal information or safeguarded data you’re always bound to have someone who has ill intent try to sabotage that data or use it for their advantage illegally. Hackers, criminals, and terrorists are well known for stealing your personal information or data and it’s always at the highest risk of being targeted for use by criminals of such standard. So when everyone starts to hear the news about states as well as government agencies trying to pass laws by which tech giants will have to give some sort of back-door policy that will allow government agencies and law enforcement a way to decrypt and unlock phones for their use against crime, some of us start to worry. This is due to the fact that if agencies have this back door policy, it will make it that much easier for hackers and other criminals to gain access to your personal data as well. It’s such a high topic of interest at the moment that even the White House has called to discuss a variety of counterterrorism issues with representatives from Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Cloudflare, Google, Dropbox, Microsoft and Linkedin.

New York is now the center of debate for this debacle as it’s aiming to require that all smartphones sold in the state can be decrypted or unlocked by law enforcement. Now only in the senate committee stage, it must first pass through both New York’s state senate and assembly in order to become a law. This comes at a crucial stage as the bill that is proposed is currently being sought on a compromise between major tech companies and lawmakers. Although as both parties are trying to each reach an agreement the tech corporations are reluctant “handing over the keys” giving law enforcement and intelligence agencies  “unfettered access”.

Apple’s move to encrypt most of its devices by default was equally met when Google also decided to use encryption by default on its newer devices featuring Android platform 6.0 Marshmallow. Previously Google was able to reset passcodes remotely but now wants to enforce a “zero knowledge” encryption stance which basically forces law enforcement to seek out device owners face to face whom they are possibly prosecuting or investigating.

With the proposed bill stemming from New York comes some great features, however. New York residents can now help determine the outcome of the bill if it makes it to the senate floor, by voting through the New York Senate’s new website. This gives the residents the ability to register their views on the bill and help persuade the senator voting to take a stand on what the people believe should happen. Dubbed as the “first-ever of its kind” in any legislature in the U.S, the web service is surely hailed by the people of New York as they can voice their opinion on whether the government should be able to decrypt or unlock their phones. Regardless of what happens everyone here is affected and we should all be able to have a say in whether the government gets a back-door pass to our personal information.