Home / Apple / Burr-Feinstein Encryption Bill Will Require Encryption Backdoors: Goodbye Security And Online Privacy?

Burr-Feinstein Encryption Bill Will Require Encryption Backdoors: Goodbye Security And Online Privacy?

Two senior members of the U.S. Senate are pushing for the adoption of a new bill that would to compel tech companies to provide law enforcement agencies access to encrypted information during matters of national security.

U.S. Senators Richard Burr from North Carolina and Dianne Feinstein from California on Wednesday released a draft bill dubbed “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016,” which is aimed at fostering better cooperation between government investigators and tech companies particularly in handling encrypted data.

The new bill is considered a response to the current legal squabble between the federal government and Apple over the tech giant’s refusal to help authorities in unlocking an iPhone believed to be owned by one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino shootings last year.

If such legislation were in place at the time, Apple would have been compelled to hand over intelligible information to the government in a timely and responsive manner, or provide technical assistance that would have helped authorities obtain such information through a court order.

One key aspect to the bill is its definition of the term “intelligible information,” which pertains to data or information that has not been encrypted, or has been initially encrypted but was decrypted for the benefit of investigators.

The data encryption bill does not include any reference to specific methodologies or limitations on how to collect data. This means tech companies will be the ones responsible for developing ways on how to bypass built-in security features, extracting the required data and decrypting it if needed.

Unlike an earlier version of the bill that was leaked to The Hill last week, this recent version features a narrower scope and now applies to cases that involved criminal acts that caused serious injury or death, terrorist acts, espionage and foreign intelligence. The legislation can also be applied to various federal crimes committed against minors, federal drug cases and serious felonies.

“No entity or individual is above the law,” Feinstein said.

“We need strong encryption to protect personal data, but we also need to know when terrorists are plotting to kill Americans.”

The data encryption bill has been the subject of much controversy ever since news about its creation was made public back in February. Security experts blasted a leaked version of the legislation, calling it both “ludicrous” and “dangerous.”

Photo: Phil Roeder | Flickr

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