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Encryption Government

NY Bill Would Force Decryption of Smartphones On Demand (onthewire.io) 353

Trailrunner7 sends word about New York Assemblyman Matthew Titone's bill that forbids the sale of smartphones that can't be cracked by their manufacturers. On the Wire reports: "A bill that is making its way through the New York state assembly would require that smartphone manufacturers build mechanisms into the devices that would allow the companies to decrypt or unlock them on demand from law enforcement. The New York bill is the latest entry in a long-running debate between privacy advocates and security experts on one side and law enforcement agencies and many politicians on the other. The revelations of the last few years about widespread government surveillance, especially that involving cell phones and email systems, has spurred device manufacturers to increase the use of encryption. New Apple iPhones now are encrypted by default, as are some Android devices. Apple, Google, and the other major manufacturers have said that user privacy and security is their main concern. The bill that is now in committee in the New York State Assembly makes no equivocation about what it is designed to do. 'Any smartphone that is manufactured on or after January First, Two Thousand Sixteen, and sold or leased in New York, shall be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider,' the bill says."
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NY Bill Would Force Decryption of Smartphones On Demand

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  • Easy Fix (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:05PM (#51294777)

    Just stop selling phones in New York, and sell them in every where else. Make consumers order them via Amazon.

    • Aha. That's going to go over really well after both Google and Apple have already long purchased some prime Manhattan real estate. If this ever survives court challenges, this would put in jeopardy all the people work in those offices.
      • Re:Easy Fix (Score:5, Interesting)

        by david_thornley ( 598059 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:17PM (#51294901)

        Apple can continue to offer iPads and Macs in the stores, along with a large explanatory sign where the iPhones would normally be. In the meantime, New York residents will have to get their iPhones somewhere else, and most will. I don't think Apple will be as hurt by this as the residents.

        • Re:Easy Fix (Score:4, Insightful)

          by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:23PM (#51294967) Homepage Journal

          Apple can continue to offer iPads and Macs in the stores, along with a large explanatory sign where the iPhones would normally be. In the meantime, New York residents will have to get their iPhones somewhere else, and most will. I don't think Apple will be as hurt by this as the residents.

          It would provide an easy way to determine which phones have backdoors.

          • It would provide an easy way to determine which phones have backdoors.

            The door handle normally gives it away.

        • Re:Easy Fix (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <dredd@megacity.org> on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:32PM (#51295033) Homepage

          It would, in fact, be a selling point.

          We care so much about you that we're not going to cave in like our competitors whose phones you can buy.

          Where it would become interesting is in how the carrier-stores (Verizon Store, Sprint Store, etc.) would choose to deal with it, since Apple would be unwilling to ship them product to sell in NY.

      • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

        > Aha. That's going to go over really well after both Google and Apple have already long purchased some prime Manhattan real estate

        If that is there price then that is their price. If they can't walk away from that investment, then they are owned by that investment. What is better for the long term good? Caving? Or publically walking away and telling Manhatten to suck an egg, they are not more important than liberty?

        Its their investment to do what they want with, but its better to own your investment than

        • Perhaps, but remember that Google and Apple are publicly-owned corporations. It's nice to think that they'd tell New York to kiss off, but if they did that you can pretty much guarantee *big* shareholder lawsuits as a result.
          • I'd happily join any shareholder lawsuit filed against them for capitulating to such an asinine law.

            • by TheCarp ( 96830 )

              This, in fact, even as a non-shareholder, as an American Citizen I feel endangered by their reckless law abiding and feel they should be liable for damage resulting from not doing their due diligence to oppose abusive power.

          • Re:Easy Fix (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Altus ( 1034 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @04:07PM (#51295381) Homepage

            New York sales will not likely outstrip the losses in sales everywhere else in the world. Being the one company to not fold would be worth a fortune in people who will buy the only phone without a back door.

      • Re: Easy Fix (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Never underestimate the power of Smartphone addicted masses.

        Cut them off from their addictions, and the pitchforks and torches will come out.

        Watch how fast they change their mind on this when their re-election prospects evaporate and the masses call for their heads.

      • I'm thinking the law would last about three days if the manufacturers didn't ship backdoored phones, meaning it would be illegal to sell a modern smartphone in NYC. Every customer wanting to buy a phone would be told:

          The city council made it illegal to sell modern smartphones in NYC. If you want to complain, here are the phone numbers of the council members you can call.

        Ten thousand complaint calls per day should get the council's attention pretty damn fast.

        • You really think they care? Ever called your representative? You get hours of wait and then arrive at a call center where you get read a standardized response.

          I did send an email once to a rep in regards to the DMCA and the response: "My office has received a high number of calls not to support this law however I personally think it's in the best interest of local businesses to vote to support this law".

    • Re:Easy Fix (Score:4, Interesting)

      by The-Ixian ( 168184 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:12PM (#51294853)

      It would be very entertaining (and even mildly interesting) to watch this from afar as politicians backpedal after public outcry that they can no longer buy smart phones in their state.

      Even if this does become law in New York, I really hope that manufacturers don't cave to the pressure. After all, while large, NY is probably only a tiny fraction of overall sales.

    • Re:Easy Fix (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:24PM (#51294977) Homepage
      exactly, ill just get my phone in PA, areacodes are fairly useless these days anyway
  • by Bob the Super Hamste ( 1152367 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:05PM (#51294779) Homepage

    Any smartphone that is manufactured on or after January First, Two Thousand Sixteen, and sold or leased in New York

    So it looks like it will be an ex post facto law then.

    • They'd have to amend that bit, perhaps to '30 days after...'

      I'm getting a bit tired of how much governments are pushing to violate our privacy for what's, really, no additional security.

      • ...how much governments are pushing to violate our privacy for what's, really, no additional security.

        This has nothing to do with security, unless you're talking about the job security of TLA's and LEO's.

      • Which still means that even if a manufacturer intends to comply, they'd have to immediately suspend all sales until the software patch is released. In fact, because of how the encryption is currently performed, it may require hardware modification to even make backdoored encryption possible: http://blog.cryptographyengine... [cryptograp...eering.com]

        • I mean to specify the Apple iPhone. Though I assume Android uses some kind of TPM in a similar way.

    • by uncqual ( 836337 )

      That caught my eye also, but this would not be an ex post facto law if I'm to believe the summary is accurate and complete (yes, I know...).

      It does not criminalize an act performed in the past at which time it was legal.

      The action it is criminalizing, after its passage, is selling a specific class of phones. That class of phones are those made after January 1, 2016 which the manufacturer has no means of decrypting. It doesn't even, based on the summary, prevent manufacturing of such a phone in New York (no

  • I cannot even put into words how much this saddens me.

    Born and raised until 13 in upstate New York.

    Beautiful part of the country, the Catskills and Finger Lakes and St. Lawrence seaway....

    but this......

    NY is still part of America, and I know its all been slowly slipping away....

    Its mine......there are many like it but this one is mine......

    If this passes, I'll never enter NY state again
    • Re:no, just no (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:27PM (#51295001) Homepage

      Do you think this is truly limited to NY? Or do you think it's part of a larger issue the entire country is facing?

      Since when did America support such massive erosion of privacy and liberty?

      In less than 20 years the US has gone from "give me liberty or give me death" to "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear".

      That shit ain't unique to New York state.

      Increasingly the populace will vote for stuff which a generation ago would have drawn outrage and (correctly) been compared to fascism. America is becoming everything it used to stand against.

      • Re:no, just no (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflatEULER.com minus math_god> on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:46PM (#51295157) Journal

        In less than 20 years the US has gone from "give me liberty or give me death" to "if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear".

        The thing is, of course, that nearly everyone has something to hide, not because there is anything necesarily wrong, but because there are things that are private.

        For example, what percentage of Americans wear clothes in public? Is there something wrong with all of these people's bodies that they feel they should conceal them from view?

        The question is, of course, rhetorical... but I think it illustrates the point: having something to hide does not mean that anything is wrong.

    • Oh no it is still part of America. In fact NY is a trend setter - they are going and the rest will follow.

      Now could you guys please use that 4th amendment to overthrow the government?
      You never shut up about your right to do it but everyone overseas is still waiting for it to happen.

    • If this passes, I'll never enter NY state again

      Just don't buy, order while in, or take delivery of, a phone there. Get your non-backdoored phone with all aspects of the transaction occurring out-of-state. Let "The Invisible Hand" slap them up alongside the head when it comes time to collect sales taxes. B-)

      If they try make non-backdoored phones contraband (like drugs or untaxed cigarettes), THEN don't set foot there anymore.

      (Of course not setting foot there - or, more importantly, spending any money ther

      • Let "The Invisible Hand" slap them up alongside the head when it comes time to collect sales taxes. B-)

        They'll want use tax for that. Doesn't mean they'll get it or have a good way to enforce it, but it doesn't strictly exempt you from tax: https://www.tax.ny.gov/pubs_an... [ny.gov]

        On the other hand, you get to credit any sales tax paid in the other state against your use tax owed. So they won't get much anyway.

    • This is as brilliant as their gun control agendas, which now want to include prohibition on buying enough ammunition to go target shooting for longer than 15 minutes per year. When the legislators are so removed from reality, it's just a symptom of public that is so exquisitely scared that they are willing to support notions that are clearly against their interests, with a far higher probability of causing harm than good.

  • Apple/Google..... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If you want to see an entire political organization lose their seats, refuse to sell compliant phones.

    Can you imagine what would happen to NY's political apparatus after telling their constituents that they cannot buy an iPhone/Pad/Pod or Google Android device anymore? Next election would be more than fun.

  • Must it also be sprinkled with unicorn dust? Talking about "legal fiction"! Just because they pass a law which says secure phones must be decryptable, does not make it possible for phones to be secure and decryptable. All other issues aside, encryption which is breakable is security through obscurity. And security through obscurity, in a commercial context, is at most safe until the first disgruntled employee. In reality it's even less safe than that because of possible accidental discovery of vulnerab
    • Re:uhm... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:36PM (#51295063) Homepage

      You seem to be missing the point where they don't care, and aren't there to protect phones being "secure".

      They don't give a crap about your security. Not even a little.

      And, of course, since some animals are more equal than others, they'll insist it's OK if they have things which can't be decrypted ...or at the very least will moronically make it a crime for people other than them to exploit this now useless encryption.

      Do not make the mistake of thinking this is about anything other than a government who wants to exert control which defies both logic and technology ... logic isn't a factor here. Fear, paranoia, and a desire to control the world around them is what drives this.

      If they can't spy on everything you do, they will try to fix that with badly written laws.

      Papers please, comrade. Failure to comply is not one of your options in the new America.

  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:08PM (#51294813)

    Expect to see disclaimers on smart-phones that they are not for sale in NY.

  • Fuck New York (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by clonehappy ( 655530 )

    Once again, New York proving that it belongs in North Korea rather than the United States.

  • by LichtSpektren ( 4201985 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:09PM (#51294821)
    I wonder how popular this politician will be when he realizes that this will ban the purchase of iPhones in the state of New York.
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:42PM (#51295117) Homepage

      There's two outcomes which seem plausible to me:

      1) Another state comes along and demands that all phones sold can't have backdoors -- hilarity ensues.
      2) The feds get in on the game and decree all phones have backdoors -- and America stops pretending it's a free country and embraces the New World Order.

      Oh, and of course if all iPhones ever had to have a back door in them, the rest of the world stops buying US technology products because they can't be trusted. (Which is already becoming an issue for US tech companies who can't comply with both US law and the laws of the countries where they do business.)

      • 3) This assemblyman buys a phone with a backdoor that gets compromised and his dirty laundry ends up on the Internet. The assemblyman may backpedal faster than Michael Jackson moonwalking.

        4) The assemblyman buys a phone without the backdoor. Assemblyman's opponent in the next election finds out and gets a target to use to accuse assemblyman of hypocrisy.

  • ...manufactured on or after January First, Two Thousand Sixteen, and sold or leased in New York, shall be capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer...

    Doesn't this part make the bill an illegal retroactive law, since "January First, Two Thousand Sixteen" was almost 2 weeks ago?

  • by Bamfarooni ( 147312 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:13PM (#51294865)

    China would be so proud.

    • by Teun ( 17872 )

      China would be so proud.

      And see a business opportunity to sell the mandated kind of phones :)

  • End-user encryption. If I make my own, it doesn't have to be particularly good, it just needs to be custom enough that "The Man" doesn't have a script-kiddie one-size-fits-all tool belt that can crack it. My shit is private, but I'm not doing anything that would make them spend big $$$ on figuring it out. Without my password, they are SOL. Oh, gee, my memory isn't so good either. Perhaps my lawyer can help me remember it?
  • Fuck it. Apple and Google should just accept market share loss and tell NY to go fuck itself. Maybe then the locals would complain and and fight to have the bill abolished. Just accept the fact that money is a casualty of this war (for privacy) and that it's all part of the deal.

    • by ADRA ( 37398 )

      Hmm, New York or literally the entire world (minus New York)... that's a hard one...

      • They could do both. They could add an option that states if you're currently in NY or not, so as to re-encrypt data with a key that's accessible to local authorities, and the option to re-encrypt again once you leave. You have to abide by state law when you're in that state. So it's technically doable, just really hard on the flash memory if you travel in an out of the state; or you could just leave it in NY mode no matter where you're at. Trouble is, it won't scale well when all other 49 states are asking

        • You have to abide by state law when you're in that state.

          The law only applies to the sale or lease of the phones. Not the usage.

          But on IOS, the encryption chip doesn't even share the UID with the OS. I don't think Apple can build a backdoored version without modifying the hardware.

    • Fuck it. Apple and Google should just accept market share loss and tell NY to go fuck itself. Maybe then the locals would complain and and fight to have the bill abolished.

      Good luck with that. Smith & Wesson and Ruger have both done the same thing in California due to the "safe guns roster" horseshit, and nothing has budged. At least NY is small enough that you can just drive over the border into another state and buy your contraband iPhone to skirt the law, which will be the most likely outcome if this bill is passed.

      • In all honesty, NY be pissing in the wind. Even if you illegally broke the NY law of preventing access to encrypted data via contraband hardware, the fine or jail time could be less than self-incrimination. Meaning, said person might get less for pleading the 5th and just take the lumps from the state.

      • Re:Just fight it (Score:4, Informative)

        by Hotawa Hawk-eye ( 976755 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @04:38PM (#51295659)

        New York City is small enough and close enough to New Jersey that traveling to another state to buy a phone may be reasonable.

        New York state is a bit over 300 miles wide (estimated from Albany to Niagara Falls on a more or less straight route) and at its tallest about 330 miles tall (estimated from New York City to Champlain.) If you're in the center of the state (in the vicinity of Syracuse, roughly) I'd estimate you're looking at a two to three hour drive one way to get to Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or the Canadian border.

        Since this bill is in the state legislature, I'm not so sure I'd call a four or five hour round trip an easy way to skirt the law for Syracuse residents.

  • by BoRegardless ( 721219 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:18PM (#51294917)

    There value of old smartphones will go up if the bill passes.

    Corporate & business users who want safe communications will seek out those old phones.

  • What's this? The post says, "The revelations of the last few years about widespread government surveillance, especially that involving cell phones and email systems, has spurred device manufacturers to increase the use of encryption."

    Really? THAT'S why we increase the use of encryption? POLITICS? I wonder if the Mr. Fisher believes that as a fact, or is just writing copy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:20PM (#51294937)

    If I had access to the backdoor, I could sell it, for more money than I would make in my entire career, by orders of magnitude. Repeatedly.

    Why would I not sell it? How could they ever catch me?

  • by dav1dc ( 2662425 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:24PM (#51294979) Homepage

    If passed, New York Assemblyman Matthew Titone's smartphone should be the first phone to be unlocked and decrypted on demand for the whole world to see (LIVE on CNN).

  • by Trailer Trash ( 60756 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:24PM (#51294981) Homepage

    "New York Assemblyman Matthew Titone"

    Let's see, no "R", "Republican", etc., so I guess we know which one it is.

  • If it goes after the manufacturers of the phones, then this bill will have absolutely no clout. Can you name a single smartphone that is made in the US? No, neither can anyone else. They'll never be able to enforce this bill on the Chinese and Korean manufacturers, it could just as well demand that the CEOs all release the phone numbers of their mistresses in their next press releases.
    • It doesn't matter where the phones are made, US carriers have to support them. Chinese or Korean made phones that Verizon, AT&T and Sprint won't operate with won't do anyone any good. And the manufacturers of the phones will do whatever they have to do to keep their business. And, if you hadn't noticed, the carriers are already the government's lapdogs.
  • Between this and the SAFE act NY has turned into a group of paranoid and fearful people willing to stamp out rights for some perceived security.

    It makes no difference - if you outlaw guns and encryption, only outlaws will have them - and you will be even less secure than before.

  • by schwit1 ( 797399 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:41PM (#51295111)
    I thought Congress gave exclusive authority to regulate the communications spectrum and communications devices to the FCC. States have been trying to regulate some apps, but this bill mentions 'devices'.
  • by MiniMike ( 234881 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @03:44PM (#51295131)

    So, from now on all cell phones in NY are free, not sold or leased, and are not subject to the law as worded.

    Of course, cell phone plans will go up to $100 per month/line, but you can get a small discount by selecting a formerly expensive phone, or a larger discount by selecting a formerly cheap phone. Oh, and don't forget more heinous early termination fees...

  • I wonder if companies would willingly pull their products off the shelves, sit back, and wait with crossed arms. Would Apple release the newest iPhone everywhere but New York just to watch voters squirm and demand it be fixed? Samsung and Galaxy whatever? Or would they cave just because it's a huge market?

    I doubt they have the true resolve to follow through.

    • I doubt they have the true resolve to follow through.

      I doubt it too.

      But I still hope that they don't cave.

      It would be fun to see the frenzy that ensues after Andoid and iPhones are pulled from NY shelves.

      I have no doubt that Microsoft would comply with this... which would make Windows Phone the only smart phone on the shelves. Perhaps that would help bump it up .001% market share.

  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @04:16PM (#51295473)

    “The fact is that, although the new software may enhance privacy for some users, it severely hampers law enforcement’s ability to aid victims. All of the evidence contained in smartphones and similar devices will be lost to law enforcement, so long as the criminals take the precaution of protecting their devices with passcodes. Of course they will do so. Simply stated, passcode-protected devices render lawful court orders meaningless and encourage criminals to act with impunity.”

    And here I thought that the standard was "If a technology has a substantial legal use, it's considered legal even if some people use it for illegal purposes."

    I look forward to the ban on automobiles. After all, "even though cars may help some people get around, they are used by some criminals to outrun police pursuing them on foot and thus the criminals will act with impunity."

  • Are they required to have easy ways to open them also?
  • by BrendaEM ( 871664 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @04:52PM (#51295805) Homepage

    4th Amendment: The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

            Perhaps, as an American I would rather die than comply, rather than give up my rights.

  • by 3vi1 ( 544505 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @05:42PM (#51296271) Homepage Journal

    Bill Nye is great. But, his evil doppleganger from the 25th century, NY Bill, sounds fucking horrible.

  • by Dusty101 ( 765661 ) on Wednesday January 13, 2016 @08:58PM (#51297435)

    "In 2016, the crime rate in the United States rises four hundred percent. The once great city of New York becomes the one maximum security prison for the entire country. A fifty-foot containment wall is erected along the New Jersey shoreline, across the Harlem River, and down along the Brooklyn shoreline. It completely surrounds Manhattan Island. All bridges and waterways are mined. The United States Police Force, like an army, is encamped around the island. There are no guards inside the prison, only prisoners and the worlds they have made. The rules are simple: once you go in, you don't buy an iPhone."

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