Brittney Mills Act failed

The Brittney Mills Act, sponsored by Rep. Edward Ted James, D-Baton Rouge, failed to pass out of the House Commerce Committee. After a motion to pass the bill
failed with a tie vote of 6-6, James asked to voluntarily defer the bill. 

HB 1040 would require that all phones made, sold, or leased in Louisiana be capable of being unlocked for law enforcement in the case of murder investigations. If the phone cannot be unlocked, the seller or leaser faces a $2,500 fine per phone. There are exceptions to this rule in the case where a phone user may have downloaded a third party encryption app. 

“It’s not just about justice, it’s about comfort and security for the family,” James told the committee. 

The bill is called the “Louisiana Brittney Mills Act,” in honor of the woman who inspired the legislation. Mills was killed last April at age 29, but the case remains open and the killer unidentified. 

Mills was shot after opening the door to her
apartment. She was eight months pregnant at the time, and while a medical team was able to deliver the baby, he died a few days  later. 

Investigators believe Mills’ cellphone may be the key to catching the killer. However, detectives cannot get inside because the phone is passcode protected. Mills’ family said she changed her passcode just days before she was shot. 

Investigators asked Apple to unlock the device, but that request was denied.

James said he hopes to bring the bill back to the committee again some time before the end of session. 

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