SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A new anti-trafficking bill introduced in the California legislature could require that all smartphones be capable of decryption and unlocking by the phone’s manufacturer or its operating system provider, essentially overriding the user’s passcode.

Assembly Bill 1681, introduced Wednesday by Assemblymember Jim Cooper, (D-Elk Grove), aims to help law enforcement investigate and prosecute suspected criminals and criminal organizations that are found to be involved in human trafficking and other serious crimes.

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If passed, the bill would require a smartphone that is manufactured on or after January 1, 2017, and sold in California, to be capable of decryption.

Gautam Hans, an attorney at the Center for Center for Democracy & Technology tweeted today that the California bill proposing an encryption ban is a “terrible” idea.

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Since 2014, smartphones have been encryption by default, but the new bill could include backdoors that could create vulnerabilities that unauthorized actors could potentially exploit.

If the Smartphone seller knowingly fails to comply with the proposed law they could face a civil penalty of $2,500 for each smartphone sold or leased, according to the bill.

If the bill were to become a law, California technology companies such as Apple and Google could potentially be forced to comply or not sell their smartphones in the state.


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By Hannah Albarazi – Follow her on Twitter