Ever since the famous whistleblower, Edward Snowden leaked the significant information of behind the door data snooping on encrypted systems by local government, public privacy via encryption has been a heated topic of debate in the United States.
Several tech giants are fighting against the demands from law enforcement intermediaries to provide them encryption backdoors for mobile devices and computers.
The main question, which bounces out of this ever-growing cause of privacy concern, is that if law bodies and government officials were to weaken the system of encryption in order to open backdoor snooping to the good guys, how can we be sure the evil ones won’t figure a way to snoop in as well?
There is a huge legislative battle brewing between political bodies, and our favorite iPhone resides at the core of it. New York and California have drafted bills, which would ban encryption for smartphones unless the manufacturer maintains encryption backdoors into their devices.
Now the fire flames have landed in Capitol Hill. A bipartisan bill, having a length of merely 3 pages (short) has been introduced, which would surely override backdoor endeavors of local legislatures, preventing them from proposing laws banning encrypted smartphone sales in their states or weakening the security of confidential public data.
Four Congress representatives Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.), Mike Bishop (R-Mich.), and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) have proposed that states should be forbidden to demand smartphone makers to equip their product with encryption backdoors technology.
“Ensuring National Constitutional Rights of Your Private Telecommunications Act” [The ENCRYPT Act of 2016] – is a proposed federal law that has the stated purpose of overriding “data security vulnerability mandates and decryption requirements” at the state level.
These four Congressmen filed this bipartisan bill earlier this week, which would forbid states or any other part from hunting alterations to devices for the aim of enabling user surveillance. The bill would also block the government from looking for the various abilities to decrypt data, which is otherwise highly unintelligible.
Today I along w/ @farenthold @RepDelBene @RepMikeBishop introduced the #ENCRYPTAct.
— Rep. Ted Lieu (@RepTedLieu) February 10, 2016
The proposal, although, would effectively leave the decision up to Congress regarding encryption backdoors. It would abstain from the patchwork of regulations and laws, which may arise if individual counties, towns, cities, and states wrote their separate rules. The patchwork would eventually make the smartphone sales confusing and, therefore, would meddle with interstate businesses.
Whether government authorities should be provided with a backdoor to approach encrypted smartphones has been a ceaseless tug-of-war between government officials and power players of the Silicon Valley namely Facebook, Apple, Google, etc, but these pair of lawmakers sincerely hope that newly proposed bill by them might have the final word when it arrives at safeguarding smartphone security.
NY & CA want to weaken smart phone security by mandating hackable “backdoors.” My ENCRYPT Act would keep phones private & secure #ENCRYPT
— Blake Farenthold (@farenthold) February 10, 2016
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), is one of the four Congress representatives. He comes with a degree in computer science and collaborated with Blake Farenthold, who happens to be a member of the House Judiciary and the House Oversight, to propose the bill on Wednesday, Encrypt Act of 2016.
Lieu explained, “It is completely technologically unworkable for individual states to mandate different encryption standards in consumer products. Apple can’t make a different smartphone for California and New York and the rest of the country.” Further he added, “Encryption is a key component of maintaining individual privacy, if governments mandate that technology companies create a back door to access encrypted information, it inherently blows a hole of vulnerability in that technology that can be exploited by thieves, spies, and hackers who can also try to access the information for their own nefarious purposes. As Congress continues to explore this issue at the federal level, the ENCRYPT Act is necessary to prevent states from creating a patchwork of different encryption standards that would harm US security and innovation,“
Ryan Hagemann, a civil and technology liberties policy analyst, addresses that the ongoing efforts of the state to ban encryption on smartphone set a riskier precedent. He feels that proposing Encrypt Act won’t end the fight.
Cyrus Vance Jr., New York District Attorney is one of the numerous officials for law enforcement arguing that it is becoming almost impossible for them to obtain any evidence from smartphones belonging to the criminals because it can be only unlocked by the owner. Not even the manufacturer records a copy of the mobile passcode.
James Comey, FBI Director, argues that locked smartphones are extremely affecting local enforcement of the law.
Practically, the technologists are unanimous in approving that demanding tech companies to offer anything less than a robust encryption would lead to a risk where criminal hackers will snoop inside to abuse the latest vulnerabilities via the backdoor medium.
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