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Lawmakers move to block government from ordering digital ‘back doors’


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A bipartisan group of House lawmakers have introduced legislation that would block the federal government from requiring technology companies to design devices with so-called back doors to allow law enforcement to access them.

 

The bill represents the latest effort by lawmakers in Congress to wade into the battle between federal law enforcement officials and tech companies over encryption, which reached a boiling point in 2015 as the FBI tussled with Apple over a locked iPhone linked to the San Bernardino terror attack case.


Top FBI and Justice Department officials have repeatedly complained that they have been unable to access devices for ongoing criminal investigations because of encryption. FBI Director Christopher Wray has suggested that devices could be designed to allow investigators to access them, though he insists the bureau is not looking for a “back door.” 

 

The bipartisan bill introduced Thursday would prohibit federal agencies from requiring or requesting that firms “design or alter the security functions in its product or service to allow the surveillance of any user of such product or service, or to allow the physical search of such product” by the government.

 

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) introduced the legislation along with Reps. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Ted Poe (R-Texas).

 

The bill would also block courts from issuing an order to compel companies to design products with “back doors” to allow for surveillance or law enforcement searches.

 

The legislation makes an exception for mandates, requests or court orders that are authorized under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, a 1994 law requiring telephone companies to make changes to their network design in order to make it easier for the government to wiretap phone calls.

 

The bill’s introduction comes following an FBI inspector general report that found the bureau did not exhaust all avenues when trying to unlock the San Bernardino suspect’s iPhone before pursuing a court order to force Apple to break into the device.

 

Critics have argued that the report shows the FBI was more interested in establishing a legal precedent to get companies to bypass encryption than in actually unlocking the phone.

 

Lofgren and other sponsors of the bill were among a group of lawmakers who wrote to Wray in April describing the report as “troubling” and suggesting that the FBI could find solutions to unlocking encrypted devices on the market instead of designing devices in order to allow law enforcement to probe them. Some, like Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), argue that altering the design of digital devices to allow for such access would weaken security. 

 

Lofgren’s bill is identical to legislation she introduced back in 2015. The bill, along with its companion in the Senate sponsored by Wyden, never went to the floor for a vote.

 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said this week that Congress may ultimately need to “take action” to solve the encryption problem. He and other officials have said the FBI was unable to break into thousands of devices last year despite having warrants to probe them.

 

Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), meanwhile, are said to be in the early stages of pursuing their own legislation in the Senate, though the details of what a prospective bill would look like are unclear.

 

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Secure Data Act of 2018 PDF Download
 

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Were talking about the FBI lol witch have been doing illegal wiretaps every since it existed , So like the CIA they going to hack regardless and do it illegally if shot down again, putting back doors in computers have been on the table every since the www existed  the CIA wanted to put the clipper chip in  cell phones back in  the 1990s  under the Clinton Administration who wanted backdoors   . One of  very same guys that talk to congress from the EFF back then and had the clipper chip shot down is the same one who talked to congress this time about it . Only the government agency  trying to do it has changed  but nothing is new under the sun.   :P


 

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The Clipper chip was not embraced by consumers or manufacturers and the chip itself was no longer relevant by 1996. The U.S. government continued to press for key escrow by offering incentives to manufacturers, allowing more relaxed export controls if key escrow were part of cryptographic software that was exported. These attempts were largely made moot by the widespread use of strong cryptographic technologies, such as PGP, which were not under the control of the U.S. government.

 

However, strongly encrypted voice channels are still not the predominant mode for current cell phone communications.Secure cell phone devices and smartphone apps exist, but may require specialized hardware, and typically require that both ends of the connection employ the same encryption mechanism. Such apps usually communicate over secure Internet pathways (e.g. ZRTP) instead of through phone voice data networks.

 

Following the Snowden disclosures from 2013, Apple and Google announced that they would lock down all data stored on their smartphones with encryption, in such a way that Apple and Google themselves could not break the encryption even if ordered to do so with a warrant. This prompted a strong reaction from the authorities, with one of the more iconic responses being the chief of detectives for Chicago’s police department stating that "Apple['s iPhone] will become the phone of choice for the pedophile".[Washington Post posted an editorial insisting that "smartphone users must accept that they cannot be above the law if there is a valid search warrant", and after agreeing that backdoors would be undesirable, suggested implementing a "golden key" backdoor which would unlock the data with a warrant.The members of "The Risks of Key Recovery, Key Escrow, and Trusted Third-Party Encryption" 1997 paper, as well as other researchers at MIT, wrote a follow-up article in response to the revival of this debate, arguing that mandated government access to private conversations would be an even worse problem now than twenty years ago.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clipper_chip

 

Smartphones and computers are not protected no way unless you're transmitting over a end to end encrypted app or using a  encrypted app to hide you're data and  in a way it's Apple and Google's fault that this got brought to the table again if they would of just left it users choice to install and end to end encrypted app or not there would not been nothing for the FBI to unlock unless the consumer installed it themselves . Only reason Google and Apple lock down encryption was to give users a false sense of security it was all about money and to keep selling there smart phones because  if they suspect  you of something they will hold you in custody  tell you unlock the data like they have been holding that pedo cop from PA for years. Even  James Comey said that even if  vendors gave them a back door this would not help in the case of open source  encryption  just like was the case in the 1990s  and this is why  if  they ever added a back door people simply wouldn't  use it and switch to non government regulated encryption and Apple or Google would may as well not have it because  nobody will use the shit! Privacy minded people are never going to fall for it.   :rolleyes:

 

James Comey on Apple and Google's Data Encryption: They 'Drove Me Crazy'

http://fortune.com/2018/04/16/james-comey-apple-google-data-encryption/

 

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Encryption does not have a back door. Something with a backdoor is not truly protected with encryption.

Math is a bad negotiator and no sane security professional would buy a bucket with a hole in it.

 

 

 

 

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