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Draft Anti-Encryption Bill Dangerous to Privacy and Security

Draft anti-encryption bill from Senators Burr and Feinstein is dangerous to privacy, security and industry

Contact: Sean Vitka
Email[email protected]

The following regarding the recently published discussion draft of the anti-encryption bill authored by Sens. Burr and Feinstein can be attributed to Demand Progress Policy Counsel Sean Vitka:

“Senators Burr and Feinstein’s just-leaked draft legislation, the ‘Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016,’ would destroy meaningful end-to-end encryption in America. Were it enacted, it would effectively outlaw companies subject to US law from providing secure communications, which depend on end-to-end encryption.

“The legislation requires companies to provide information to the government upon request in a decrypted, ‘intelligible format,’ thus forcing every company subject to American law to be able to decrypt any information they encrypt. Companies would be dragooned into the role of undermining the security systems they laboriously constructed.

“The bill is a perilous step in the wrong direction in terms of security. The notion of a backdoor — what Senators Burr and Feinstein euphemistically term ‘technical assistance’ — that is only available to the government is a stale and entirely discredited idea. A backdoor for the government is a security loophole capable of exploitation by everyone.

“Instead of learning from the Department of Justice’s failure in the Apple-FBI case, Sens. Burr and Feinstein have doubled down. This is all the more disappointing given that these two Senators, as the heads of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, are primarily responsible for curtailing intelligence agency overreach.

“Every service, person, human rights worker, protester, reporter, and company will be easier to spy on. Even as this bill undermines every Americans’ privacy and safety, its jurisdictional narrowness is yet another catastrophic flaw. It does not control Russian products, or the North Korean government. Senators Burr and Feinstein are asking America to cripple its defensive information abilities.

“Even in draft form, this legislation is so short-sighted it calls into question the authors’ ability to lead the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which Senators Burr and Feinstein chair. Their positions are singularly powerful in their ability to ensure that intelligence collection is done effectively and legally. This bill is disturbing evidence that they are not up for the job. The White House, the rest of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and indeed the rest of Congress should quickly and forcefully reject this proposal.”

For more, read Vitka’s op-ed at Motherboard: ’Leaked’ Burr-Feinstein Encryption Bill Is a Threat to American Privacy