California lawmaker wants to ban phone encryption in 2017

The bill would put every Californian's digital security at risk to prosecute a few pimps.

California lawmaker, State Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Elk Grove), has introduced a bill that would effectively ban the sale of mobile devices that have encryption on by default beginning in 2017. The bill, AB 1681, demands that any phone sold after January 1, 2017 be "capable of being decrypted and unlocked by its manufacturer or its operating system provider." Should this bill become law, manufacturers found in violation would be subject to fines of $2,500 per phone.

Cooper's reasoning puts a novel spin on the same, tired "The police can't do their jobs unless tech companies do it for them" argument. This time, he used human trafficking as the boogeyman that needs defeating and which can only be accomplished if the government has unfettered, disk-level access to its citizens' cell phones.

"If you're a bad guy [we] can get a search record for your bank, for your house, you can get a search warrant for just about anything," Cooper told ArsTechnica. "For the industry to say it's privacy, it really doesn't hold any water. We're going after human traffickers and people who are doing bad and evil things. Human trafficking trumps privacy, no ifs, ands, or buts about it." Apparently human trafficking also trumps the 4th Amendment as well.