Political Will for Encryption Law Has Weakened Since Apple-FBI Dispute

Support for encryption legislation in the U.S. has flatlined and the push for changes in federal law following the San Bernardino shootings has petered out, according to sources in congressional offices, the administration and the tech sector (via Reuters).

On February 16, a U.S. federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI to unlock the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead.

feinsteinburr

Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein.

The FBI asked Apple to create a version of iOS that would both disable passcode security features and allow passcodes to be entered electronically, allowing it to then brute force the passcode on the device.

Apple announced that it would oppose the order in an open letter penned by Tim Cook, who said the FBI's request would set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption.

Apple claimed the software the FBI asked for could serve as a "master key" able to be used to get information from any iPhone or iPad - including its most recent devices - while the FBI claimed it only wanted access to a single iPhone.

Apple's dispute with the FBI ended on March 28, after the government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone through the help of "professional hackers" and withdrew the lawsuit as a result.

During the controversy, a Senate Intelligence Committee encryption bill was announced by committee leaders Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, which aimed to force companies to provide "technical assistance" to government investigators seeking locked data.

A released draft of the encryption bill in April revealed the scope of the proposed legislation, which was heavily criticized by security experts and the wider technology community, and described variously as "absurd", "technically inept", and "dangerous".

An open letter expressing "deep concerns" about the draft bill was subsequently signed by four coalitions representing Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and other major tech companies. At the same time, the White House chose not to offer public support for the legislation, and the administration remained deeply divided on the issue.

The CIA and NSA were also ambivalent, according to several current and former intelligence officials, because agency officials feared any new law would interfere with their own encryption efforts.

Now, despite Burr repeatedly insisting that legislation is imminent, no timeline exists for the bill, Democrats and Republicans on the Intelligence Committee have apparently backed away from the issue, and the political will to support its advance no longer appears to exist.

Despite the change in the political landscape, however, the FBI remains adamant that litigation over the encryption of mobile devices will continue.

In a briefing with reporters earlier this month, FBI director James Comey called encryption an "essential tradecraft" of terrorist organizations like ISIS, suggesting that the debate over whether the government can compel tech companies to unlock personal devices in the interest of national security is far from over.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

Morky Avatar
70 months ago
In a briefing with reporters earlier this month, FBI director James Comey called encryption and "essential tradecraft" of terrorist organizations like ISIS
If encryption is essential tradecraft for terrorist organizations, then creating backdoors and weakening encryption in consumer electronics would have zero effect on them and only serve to weaken they security of a couple of billion people. Terrorists could, and I'm sure do, use other means to encrypt communications other than what comes out of the box in an iPhone or Android phone.
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PBRsg Avatar
70 months ago
One of my steadfast rules in politics: I want the opposite of whatever Feinstein wants.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
drumcat Avatar
70 months ago
Expect any future onerous legislation to be attached to some Save The Children bill.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
duffman9000 Avatar
70 months ago
I don't like judging a person by looks, but she looks downright evil. Like she is about to throw some puppies in the oven.
[doublepost=1464350680][/doublepost]
One of my steadfast rules in politics: I want the opposite of whatever Feinstein wants.
If she was for puppies I'd have to be against puppies.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vvswarup Avatar
70 months ago
We like to talk about how special interest groups and the rich have too much influence over US politics at the expense of less well-off Americans. There are those who say that for this reason, we need term limits on Congress. This stupid encryption bill is another reason why we need term limits. These career politicians with no understanding of modern technology are proposing laws that are going to make our data less secure.

This law is tantamount to requiring a backdoor. That's just unacceptable. What do LEOs think they'll accomplish if they weaken encryption? To use the words of Comey, if encryption is an essential tradecraft of terrorist organizations, they'll just find a way to get their hands on encryption. By painting encryption as essential tradecraft of terrorist organizations, Comey is trying to make us believe that privacy is abnormal, and you want privacy, you're probably doing something that you shouldn't be doing.

If politicians have their way with this bill, only the bad guys will have privacy. The good guys who are just trying to protect critical information like credit card numbers, health data, and other things will be forced to do without it and will be turned into mindless drones of the government.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Gymgenius Avatar
70 months ago
I don't believe it for a second.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple california streaming event

Apple Event Announced: 'California Streaming' on September 14 With iPhone 13, Apple Watch Series 7 Expected

Tuesday September 7, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple today announced that it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, September 14 at 10:00 a.m. The event will take place at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with WWDC and last year's fall events, this new event will be held digitally with no members of the media invited to attend in person. Apple will likely provide pre-taped segments for...
Apple Prefer Lightning Over USB C Feature

iPhone Sticking With Lightning Port Over USB-C for 'Foreseeable Future'

Tuesday March 2, 2021 9:32 am PST by
Apple will retain the Lightning connector on the iPhone for the "foreseeable future," with no intention of switching to USB-C, according to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In spite of much of the industry moving toward USB-C, Apple will not be using it to replace the Lightning connector on the iPhone 13, or indeed on any iPhone model for the time being. In a note seen by MacRumors yesterday,...
iphone 12 colors 2021

iPhone 12 Colors: Deciding on The Right Color

Thursday November 5, 2020 8:35 am PST by
The iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro arrived in October 2020 in a range of color options, with entirely new hues available on both devices, as well as some popular classics. The 12 and 12 Pro have different color choices, so if you have your heart set on a particular shade, you might not be able to get your preferred model in that color. iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 The iPhone 12 mini and iPhone...
it home ecommerce app iphone 13

iPhone 13 to Launch on September 17, AirPods 3 on September 30, Claims Report

Wednesday August 25, 2021 2:42 am PDT by
Apple may be planning to launch the iPhone 13 on Friday, September 17 and third-generation AirPods on Thursday, September 30, according to an image of an e-commerce app discovered by Chinese language site IT Home. The screenshot, originally posted by Weibo account @PandaIsBald, suggests all four iPhone 13 models will go on sale on September 17, followed by the AirPods 3 on September 30....
youtube apple tv

YouTube Discontinuing 3rd-Generation Apple TV App, AirPlay Still Available

Wednesday February 3, 2021 3:09 pm PST by
YouTube is planning to stop supporting its YouTube app on the third-generation Apple TV models, where YouTube has long been available as a channel option. A 9to5Mac reader received a message about the upcoming app discontinuation, which is set to take place in March.Starting early March, the YouTube app will no longer be available on Apple TV (3rd generation). You can still watch YouTube on...
original iphone

Phil Schiller Says iPhone Was 'Earth-Shattering' Ten Years Ago and Remains 'Unmatched' Today

Monday January 9, 2017 7:15 am PST by
To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller sat down with tech journalist Steven Levy for a wide-ranging interview about the smartphone's past, present, and future. The report first reflects upon the iPhone's lack of support for third-party apps in its first year. The argument inside Apple was split between whether the iPhone should be a closed...
studio buds family

Beats Studio Buds Debuting Today With Active Noise Cancellation, Stemless Design, and More for $150

Monday June 14, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
We've seen a lot of teasers about the Beats Studio Buds over the past month since they first showed up in Apple's beta software updates, and today they're finally official. The Beats Studio Buds are available to order today in red, white, and black ahead of a June 24 ship date, and they're priced at $149.99. The Studio Buds are the first Beats-branded earbuds to truly compete with AirPods...
maroon5memories

Apple Collaborates With Maroon 5 to Add 'Memories' Song to Photos App

Wednesday September 25, 2019 12:02 pm PDT by
Apple has teamed up with Maroon 5 to add the group's new song "Memories" to the Memories feature in the Photos app, allowing it to be used for photo slide show creations, reports Billboard. "Memories" will be available as a soundtrack option for a limited time and it is available to iPhone and iPad users running the latest iOS 13 and iPadOS software. Memories in the Photos app are created ...
ulysses Blog Publishing

Ulysses 22 Brings New Blogging Options and Visual Customizations

Monday March 22, 2021 5:24 am PDT by
Popular writing app Ulysses today received its 22nd major release, introducing new publishing features and additional options for users to customize the visual appearance of their writing environment. As well as providing a focused writing environment, Ulysses offers ways to publish texts from within the app to various blogging platforms. Version 22 adds the ability to publish to Micro.blog, ...
affinity designer contour tool

Serif Updates Affinity Photo, Designer, and Publisher With New Tools and Functions

Thursday February 4, 2021 1:58 am PST by
Serif today announced across-the-board updates for its popular suite of Affinity creative apps, including Affinity Photo, Affinity Designer, and the Apple award-winning Affinity Publisher for Mac, all of which were among the first professional creative suites to be optimized for Apple's new M1 chip. "After another year which saw record numbers of people switching to Affinity, it's exciting to...