Apple expresses ‘deep concerns’ over U.S. Senator’s proposed smartphone decryption bill

“Four coalitions representing Apple, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and other major tech companies have published an open letter expressing their concerns over a controversial US bill that would require smartphone makers to decrypt data on demand,” Amar Toor reports for The Verge. “The letter, published this week, is addressed to the bill’s sponsors, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and signed by four industry groups: Reform Government Surveillance, the Computer and Communications Industry Association, the Internet Infrastructure Coalition, and the Entertainment Software Association. In addition to Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, the coalitions represent companies like Facebook, Netflix, eBay, and Dropbox.”

“An official draft of the bill was published last week, in the wake of Apple’s standoff with the FBI over access to an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino terrorist attack,” Toor reports. “The bill has been met with strong resistance from civil liberties groups like the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation, as well as Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who has said he will filibuster it.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Again, it’s our hope that Congress will listen to the few techie members they have and not follow the whims of vapid career politicians like Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr who are confused at best and traitors at worst.

Full text of the open letter:

Letter to Chairman Burr and Vice-Chairman Feinstein Regarding Encryption

April 19, 2016

The Honorable Richard Burr
Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein
Select Committee on Intelligence
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Burr and Vice-Chairman Feinstein:

We write to express our deep concerns about well-intentioned but ultimately unworkable policies around encryption that would weaken the very defenses we need to protect us from people who want to cause economic and physical harm. We believe it is critical to the safety of the nation’s, and the world’s, information technology infrastructure for us all to avoid actions that will create government-mandated security vulnerabilities in our encryption systems.

As member companies whose innovations help to drive the success and growth of the digital economy, we understand the need to protect our users’ physical safety and the safety of their most private information. To serve both these interests, we adhere to two basic principles. First, we respond expeditiously to legal process and emergency requests for data from government agencies. Second, we design our systems and devices to include a variety of network- and device-based features, including but not limited to strong encryption. We do these things to protect users’ digital security in the face of threats from both criminals and governments.

Any mandatory decryption requirement, such as that included in the discussion draft of the bill that you authored, will to lead to unintended consequences. The effect of such a requirement will force companies to prioritize government access over other considerations, including digital security. As a result, when designing products or services, technology companies could be forced to make decisions that would create opportunities for exploitation by bad actors seeking to harm our customers and whom we all want to stop. The bill would force those providing digital communication and storage to ensure that digital data can be obtained in “intelligible” form by the government, pursuant to a court order. This mandate would mean that when a company or user has decided to use some encryption technologies, those technologies will have to be built to allow some third party to potentially have access. This access could, in turn, be exploited by bad actors.

It is also important to remember that such a technological mandate fails to account for the global nature of today’s technology. For example, no accessibility requirement can be limited to U.S. law enforcement; once it is required by the U.S., other governments will surely follow. In addition, the U.S. has no monopoly on these security measures. A law passed by Congress trying to restrict the use of data security measures will not prevent their use. It will only serve to push users to non-U.S. companies, in turn undermining the global competitiveness of the technology industry in the U.S. and resulting in more and more data being stored in other countries.

We support making sure that law enforcement has the legal authorities, resources, and training it needs to solve crime, prevent terrorism, and protect the public. However, those things must be carefully balanced to preserve our customers’ security and digital information. We are ready and willing to engage in dialogue about how to strike that balance, but remain concerned about efforts to prioritize one type of security over all others in a way that leads to unintended, negative consequences for the safety of our networks and our customers

Reform Government Surveillance
Computer & Communications Industry Association
Internet Infrastructure Coalition (I2C)
The Entertainment Software Association

Senator Ron Wyden vows filibuster of controversial encryption bill – April 14, 2016
U.S. Senate panel releases draft of controversial bill that would break encryption – April 13, 2016
Apple’s fight with U.S. government over privacy enters a new round – April 12, 2016
Dianne Feinstein’s response to Apple-FBI dispute is bad for privacy, security – April 8, 2016
White House declines to support legislation to defeat strong encryption – April 7, 2016
U.S. Senator Wyden pledges to fight limits on encryption – March 31, 2016
Apple: ‘Government misunderstands the technology’ involved in demanding they decrypt an iPhone – March 16, 2016
U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham finally talks to tech experts, switches side to Apple vs. FBI – March 15, 2016
Obama pushes for iPhone back door; Congressman Issa blasts Obama’s ‘fundamental lack of understanding’ – March 12, 2016
California Democrat Diane Feinstein backs U.S. government overreach over Apple – March 10, 2016
U.S. Congressman Darrell Issa: The FBI should try to unlock shooter’s iPhone without Apple’s help – March 2, 2016
U.S. Representative Darrell Issa on Apple vs. FBI: Very scary when your government wants to know more about you – February 24, 2016

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. You are concerned now? You should have been concerned when your government started making Nazi Germany look good or have you forgotten what they did with those IBM machines once they got their hands on them? Thing is that the Nazis were eventually brought to justice, looks like the ones here, those responsible for their crimes against humanity are above the law. Oh well it’s good that you are waking up and finally smelling the coffee, better late than never.

    The smart money is for leaving, while you still can.

    1. While the public might be waking up, and I emphasize “might,” that ain’t coffee they are smelling. It is a big heaping pile of steaming shit that our government is dumping on the Constitution.

      1. That put a smile on my face 84 Mac Guy but I’m a little reluctant to make that leap. After all manure may be no sinner but where it’s planted miracles grow.

        Tongue in cheek of course, have a good one.

    1. What would you prefer: “We think all US senators are traitorous scum who live on bribes and tromp on rights… That’s why we want at least forty of you to vote with us to block this bill.”

      This is politics, folks. You don’t get votes by insulting the voters.

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