Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Good News for Electronic Privacy, for Once

Two great developments lately. First, a sort of state-level version of the upcoming U.S. federal bill that requires decryption of electronic communications was defeated in California. Jeremy B. White of the Sacramento Bee:

A national debate over smartphone encryption arrived in Sacramento on Tuesday as legislators defeated a bill penalizing companies that don’t work with courts to break into phones, siding with technology industry representatives who called the bill a dangerous affront to privacy. […]

Assembly Bill 1681 would authorize $2,500 penalties against phone manufacturers and operating system providers if they do not obey court orders to decrypt phones.

And another bill at the federal level is moving forward in Congress. Eric Geller of the Daily Dot:

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed (28-0) the Email Privacy Act, which eliminates a loophole allowing authorities to get some electronic records without a warrant. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Kan.), has more than 300 sponsors and is expected to sail through the full chamber.

The Email Privacy Act requires law-enforcement agencies to get a warrant in order to demand that tech companies turn over online communication records, such as emails, instant messages, and private social-media messages. It amends the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), which only required a warrant for messages newer than 180 days.

Small but significant steps. It’s progress.