Proposed law could ban Apple from selling iPhones in California


The iPhone isn't ditching LCD screens.
Designed by Apple in California. Just not for sale there.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Apple could be banned from selling iPhones on its home turf of California if a new bill banning unbreakable encryption is passed.

Called bill 1681, the proposed law was put forward by California assembly member Jim Cooper, who wants any smartphone sold in California after July 1, 2015 to be “capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider.”

Any smartphone not complying with this rule would be fined $2,500.

The wording is very similar to a proposed law in New York, which states that, “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.”

With mounting pressure from governments around the world to do something about its smartphone encryption, it will be fascinating to see how Apple reacts to this latest proposed bill. Apple has already publicly criticized the U.K.’s not-dissimilar draft Investigatory Powers Bill, a.k.a. the “snooper’s charter,” arguing that forcing companies to create backdoors in encryption services like iMessage could “hurt law-abiding citizens.”

During Tim Cook’s interview with Charlie Rose on the “Inside Apple” episode of 60 Minutes, Apple’s CEO argued against backdoors, saying that, “If there’s a way to get in, then somebody will find the way in. There have been people that suggest that we should have a backdoor. But the reality is if you put a backdoor in, that backdoor’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys.”

Source: ZDNet

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  • NitzMan

    Perhaps somebody should get into these lawmakers lives and turn it upside down to demonstrate what could happen once you open up access to private information.

    Even if OS vendors create these “back doors”, what’s to prevent application developers from encrypting data? Would they then go as far as blacklisting apps? A prohibition of privacy… All this will do is prompt a race to create new methods of communicating that can’t be viewed by others

  • G1

    It’s amazing to me that our government feels they have a right to view our private communications. It’s mind boggling. Privacy from government should be an inalienable right. Period.

  • pjs_boston

    Criminals, terrorists and drug dealers will simply ignore this law. The $2,500 fine is a privacy tax affordable only by the rich. Wonderful.

    • Benjamin Walburn

      The fine would be to the manufacturer. This isn’t a privacy tax, it’s illegal control of businesses through prohibitive taxation.

      • John Griffin

        Do you really think that the companies wouldn’t pass that tax onto the customer?

      • Benjamin Walburn

        You can’t pass a $2500 fine on a $800ish device onto the customers. That’s the point of the massive fine. A fine in the double digits, or maybe $100ish, but not a fine that’s potentially 5 times the value of the phone. The only people that would buy it is the wealthy, and there aren’t enough of them to remain profitable.

  • JMCQ

    Once again lets punish all the law abiding citizens cause Politicians are incapable of thinking! Why should we give up more rights to our Freedom. Stop selling throw away cell phones you idiot thats what all who need to hide are using.

    • Spac3Monk3y

      This would not be an issue if A. people didn’t use their phones for criminal activity and B. tech companies didn’t do everything in their powers to obstruct investigationso that involve phones.

  • KillJoy

    Lets do some simple math. There are 322,000,000 people in the US. 64% have smartphones or about 200,000,000. There are about 2,500,000 people in prison and about 1,600,000 of them potentially have access to smartphones. So these states (NY and now CA) want to make 200 million smartphone users vulnerable to privacy & security hacks to potentially investigate 0.8% This bill is based on ignorance. Not only is it impractical for law enforcement to monitor 200 million US smartphones (lets not count the smartphones brought in the country daily by overseas visitors). To prevent the types of crime that this solution is supposed to prevent is worse than looking for a needle in a huge haystack! The US government is supposed to work for the People. Not this misguided attempt to allow law enforcement easy access to less than 1% of the population. We the People need to send a message to Congress that we won’t let our Constitutional rights be overlooked because of Fear, Uncertainty or Doubt.

  • Jim Cooper should be strung up for his Big-Brother thinking!! I like NitzMan’s thinking though….I am so sick of Gov’t sticking their nose where it does not belong!!!

  • Spac3Monk3y

    This is necessary. if apple granted access to iphones when requsted by the DOJ we wouldn’t be in this situation.

    • Richard Liu

      And soon you’ll find all your mails and messages are printed out and reviewed by 12 decent citizens you never met, simply because you drank a cup of herbal tea in your last trip to Colombia. It’s a real case happened several years ago on a poor woman who lost her job for it.

      • Spac3Monk3y

        I’m not saying that it’s not incredibly inconvenient. but the only way we can avoid a situation like this is through cooperation, Apple and has shown that they are completely unwilling.

      • Richard Liu

        And I too show you that I’m completely unwilling. It’s not something “inconvenient”. It’s violation of human rights.

      • Spac3Monk3y

        And that’s why they are passing a law.

    • Da-Aaron

      Do you actually understand the issue, or are you just talking out of your ass? “If Apple had just cooperated?” Seriously?

      • Spac3Monk3y

        I absolutely understand. Criminals are using smartphones to keep all their sensitive information and since the 5th amendment protects against self incrimination they can not be compelled to unlock their phone. Full disk encryption prevents the DOJ from obtaining evidence necessary to convict them. If the DOJ has a warrant then I believe apple and the rest should unlock the suspects phone

      • Da-Aaron

        You are willing to trade your rights and your privacy for the extra “security” this would provide? General Warrants would make us even safer; You want to open that box too?

        Do you know how many cases there have been where the government can’t get into an encrypted phone during a criminal case? Maybe you should look it up, it will shock you when you see how few there have been.

  • Cold_dead_fingers

    Let’s be real: there are benefits to this stuff. I honestly think Apple is just trying to sell a non-feature. The government should have a back door. Even if the system is only 1% fruitful, that’s some people saved. Let the sketchy people buy burners. We’re buying mainstream phones.

    • Vladimír Bělohradský

      Benefit is much smaller than potential risk of great disaster. Imagine real physical backdoors into White House. It would be just a matter of time when terrorists would find out and use it for attack. IT is hearth of modern economy. Backdoor into devices could be Achilles heel of economy. A small thing that could destroy great warrior.

  • Vladimír Bělohradský

    There is whole alternative internet called Deep network. Why would criminals and terrorists use normal services where they never know if it is really private. Deep network is out off control and it will never be under control of anyone. Not mention that every programmer can create custom app that will encrypt it’s content and share this app out of app/play store among their contacts. This law is not for fight terrorism really but it put danger weakness into economy. Imagine that core business men have very important data in their phones and computers. This backdoor will be quickly used by hackers to steal this data and put whole industries into great danger. This could be potentially more disastrous than atomic missile. What happen if economy collapse? Total and very destructive chaos! People of United States of America must fight this law for sake of their lives.