Ohio Legislation Aims to Improve Texting Technology for State’s Mobile Users

Ohio Legislation Aims to Improve Texting Technology for State's Mobile Users

In the last thirty years, there has been a significant advancement in mobile phone technology. However, one Republican state legislator in Ohio wants to ensure that texting is safer.

Using outdated technology known as SMS, or short messaging service, the majority of Ohioans still send and receive texts, according to Representative Haraz Ghanbari (R-Piersburg). According to Ghanbari, electronic devices can warp and blur images. Significantly, he added, SMS texts are more easily hacked since they are not encrypted.

A bill that would mandate that mobile phone providers employ new text-encrypting technology has been supported by Ghanbari. Email is one of the applications for this enhanced technology, he claims. And since the state is funding a program that enables Ohioans to use texts to contact the state’s 911 service, he added, this is the ideal time to implement it.

Ohio Legislation Aims to Improve Texting Technology for State's Mobile Users (1)

“Safety and encryption are crucial. According to Ghanbari, during the bill’s initial hearing before the House Technology and Innovation Committee, “even the most inexperienced hacker would probably be quite bored by compromising an SMS text.” A 2021 study by the news organization “Vice” discovered that it would only cost about $16 to hack a device’s texts in their entirety.

After numerous instances of fraudulent activity were found during the pandemic, according to Ghanbari, security concerns were raised. If providers don’t update their messaging equipment, they risk paying hefty fines from his legislation. Sent in real-time notifications when senders are typing messages and when receivers have received them, as well as the transmission and reception of images, videos, and other data in their original quality, are some of the needed upgrades.

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According to some, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” or “It’s easy to put this on the back burner,” Ghanbari stated.

Question marks were raised by Ghanbari’s Republican committee colleagues. The bill’s provision requiring courts to immediately stop the unlawful behavior and impose a $10 per user fee on the firm for each month it fails to comply was criticized by Rep. Jennifer Gross (R-West Chester).

“You propose that any company that does not enforce this law could have civil action taken against it?” Gross inquired.

Rep. Riordan McClain (R-Upper Sandusky) questioned whether the state was meddling in free markets by demanding this technology and suggested companies offer the upgraded technology as an optional service.

“They can do so and consumers can choose to use that or not. Is this not going too far and saying everybody has to provide the same product to their consumers?” McClain asked.

But Ghanbari said this is a safety issue and said security shouldn’t be something that is afforded to some customers and not others. He explained banks, for example, often want two-factor authentication for texts that are commonly sent via unencrypted SMS.

Rep. Dani Isaacsohn (D-Cincinnati) also wondered whether mandating encryption would make it more difficult for law enforcement officials to go after criminals.

If the bill gets another hearing, it won’t happen until after the March primary at the earliest.

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