Attempts by such states as California and New York to ban the sale of encrypted phones in their states unless the manufacturer builds in a back door to access data may be rendered null and void, if a bipartisan bill being introduced today in Congress by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) becomes law.
The ENCRYPT Act of 2016, or by its longer name, the Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act, would preempt state and local government encryption laws. The two men said today they are “deeply concerned” that varying bills surrounding encryption would endanger the country as well as the competitiveness of American companies. The argument is that it wouldn’t be easy or even feasible to tailor phone encryption capabilities for specific states.
The introduction of the bill was spurred by the proposal of two virtually identical bills introduced in the California and New York state legislatures that would ban mobile device encryption for phones sold in those states, fining manufacturers for each phone sold in the state with total disk encryption.
The assemblymen in each state, Jim Cooper in California and Matthew Titone in New York, were both encouraged to introduce the bills to their respective legislatures by local DA offices in those states. It should be noted, neither bill has made any significant progress toward becoming law, and both have a long road to travel before being passed into law.
The ENCRYPT Act is likely not the only encryption-related bill Congress will consider this year, as another bipartisan bill, this one IMPOSING limits on encrypted devices, will likely be introduced in the Senate by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), along with Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC). The duo said they will introduce the bill this year. Another bipartisan Senate duo – Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and Michael McCaul (R-TX) – are looking at introducing a bill that would establish a national commission to study encryption. Stay tuned kids, it could be an interesting year…