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Ohio bill upgrades texting tech for state’s mobile users.

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TLDR:

A proposed bill in Ohio would require mobile phone companies to upgrade their texting technology to improve security and encryption. Representative Haraz Ghanbari, the bill’s sponsor, argues that current technology, called SMS or Short Messaging Service, can distort images and is susceptible to hacking. The bill aims to mandate the use of upgraded technology for text transmission and receipt, including original quality media sharing and real-time notifications. Ghanbari believes that security and encryption should be available to all customers, not just select individuals or organizations. However, some Republican colleagues have expressed concerns about potential legal and free market implications.

Republican state lawmaker, Rep. Haraz Ghanbari, intends to introduce a bill in Ohio that would require mobile phone companies to upgrade their texting technology to improve security and encryption. Ghanbari asserts that Ohioans primarily rely on an older technology called Short Messaging Service (SMS) which can distort images and is vulnerable to hacking. Thus, his proposed legislation would mandate the use of an upgraded texting technology that offers improved security measures. Upgraded technology, already being widely used for email, would encrypt texts to protect them from being hacked. Ghanbari argues that the current moment is the most opportune time to make this mandatory shift, as the state is investing funds to develop a program that utilizes texts for accessing Ohio’s emergency service, 911.

Ghanbari also highlights that security concerns surrounding SMS texting technology were exacerbated during the pandemic, as many cases of fraudulent activity came to light. To enforce this bill, providers who fail to upgrade their technology could face substantial fines. The proposed upgrades would ensure that media such as photos and videos are transmitted and received in their original quality. Additionally, users would receive real-time notifications when senders are typing a message, as well as when recipients have received it.

However, some Republican colleagues of Ghanbari on the House Technology and Innovation Committee raised doubts about the bill. Rep. Jennifer Gross questioned the provision that triggers legal action and charges a $10 per user fee for noncompliance. Rep. Riordan McClain suggested that companies should offer the upgraded technology as an optional service, rather than the state mandating it, stating that consumers should choose whether to utilize it. Ghanbari defends the bill by emphasizing that security should not be exclusive to some customers while leaving others vulnerable. He cites two-factor authentication for texts as an example, which many banks use to ensure security.

While some lawmakers have voiced concerns about law enforcement officials’ ability to track criminals if texts are encrypted, Ghanbari asserts that this legislation is primarily a safety issue. At present, it remains uncertain when the bill will receive another hearing, with the earliest possibility being after the March primary.

Overall, Ghanbari’s proposed bill aims to modernize and secure text messaging technology in Ohio by mandating the use of upgraded and encrypted systems. It intends to protect users from hacking and distortion and ensure that media sharing and notifications are efficient and of high quality.

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