Bipartisan ‘Secure Data Act’ would make it illegal for U.S. government to demand backdoors

“A new bill introduced in Congress gets encryption right,” David Ruiz writes for EEF. “The bipartisan Secure Data Act would stop any government agency or court order from forcing a company to build backdoors into encrypted devices and communications.”

“This welcome piece of legislation reflects much of what the community of encryption researchers, scientists, developers, and advocates have explained for decades—there is no such thing as a secure backdoor,” Ruiz writes. “EFF supports the Secure Data Act, introduced by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Poe (R-TX), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL). You can read the full bill here.”

“The two-page bill has sweeping safeguards that uphold security both for developers and users. As the bill says, ‘no agency may mandate or request that a manufacturer, developer, or seller of covered products 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 any agency,'” Ruiz writes. “This bill would protect companies that make encrypted mobile phones, tablets, desktop and laptop computers, as well as developers of popular software for sending end-to-end encrypted messages.”

“The Secure Data Act is thus the polar opposite of the Burr-Feinstein proposal introduced in the wake of the confrontation between Apple and the FBI in the San Bernardino case, which would have allowed sweeping court orders to require technical assistance from companies like Apple. We’ve explained before that this type of mandate is unconstitutional, likely violating the First Amendment,” Ruiz writes. “Legislation like the Secure Data Act would both prevent another such fight from playing out and also head-off the risk of wrong-headed legislation like the Burr-Feinstein proposal.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Make it so.

Again, encryption is binary; it’s either on or off. You cannot have both. You either have privacy via full encryption or you don’t by forcing back doors upon Apple or anybody else. It’s all or nothing. — MacDailyNews, March 8, 2017

There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 2015

This is not about this phone. This is about the future. And so I do see it as a precedent that should not be done in this country or in any country. This is about civil liberties and is about people’s abilities to protect themselves. If we take encryption away… the only people that would be affected are the good people, not the bad people. Apple doesn’t own encryption. Encryption is readily available in every country in the world, as a matter of fact, the U.S. government sponsors and funs encryption in many cases. And so, if we limit it in some way, the people that we’ll hurt are the good people, not the bad people; they will find it anyway. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, February 2016

Bill Gates thinks Apple should unlock iPhones at the government’s request – February 13, 2018
FBI Director Wray calls inability to access electronic devices an ‘urgent public safety issue’ – January 9, 2018
Tim Cook’s refusal to create iPhone backdoor for FBI vindicated by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack on Windows PCs – May 15, 2017
The Microsoft Tax: Leaked NSA malware hijacks Windows PCs worldwide; Macintosh unaffected – May 13, 2017
Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that ‘back doors’ are a stupid idea – August 10, 2016
U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu says strong encryption without backdoors is a ‘national security priority’ – April 29, 2016
iPhone backdoors would pose a threat, French privacy chief warns – April 8, 2016
The U.S. government’s fight with Apple could backfire big time – March 14, 2016
Obama pushes for iPhone back door; Congressman Issa blasts Obama’s ‘fundamental lack of understanding’ – March 12, 2016
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch backs U.S. government overreach on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – March 11, 2016
Former CIA Director: FBI wants to dictate iPhone’s operating system – March 11, 2016
FBI warns it could demand Apple’s iPhone code and secret electronic signature – March 10, 2016
California Democrat Diane Feinstein backs U.S. government overreach over Apple – March 10, 2016
Snowden: U.S. government’s claim it can’t unlock San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’ – March 10, 2016
Apple could easily lock rights-trampling governments out of future iPhones – February 20, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashes out at Obama administration over encryption, bemoans White House lack of leadership – January 13, 2016
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013


    1. It’s particularly nice to see Ted Poe as a sponsor on this. When he was a senior Assistant District Attorney in Houston and later a District Judge, Ted was an almost annual speaker at our Texas prosecutors’ meetings, known for his fireball law and order speeches. His stance on most issues is well to the right of even the average in our very conservative state.

      Ted’s presence on the list of sponsors puts the lie to the notion that being pro-law enforcement requires holding a cavalier attitude towards data security. He fully understands the social costs that are associated with allowing secure end-to-end communications by criminals and terrorists, but also understands that the failure to safeguard everyone else’s communications would be even more costly.

      Two other things are notable about this:

      (1) By supporting this, Ted is bucking all the prominent figures associated with past and present Administrations who have castigated the tech industry in general, and Apple in particular, for failing to provide back doors. Some of the rhetoric has essentially accused Apple of complicity in mass murder.

      (2) Unlike most of his Republican colleagues, Ted doesn’t need to worry about a primary opponent attacking him from the right on this issue and turning it into a litmus test for “conservatism.” Like several other Republican legislators who have shown an independent streak, Rep. Poe is retiring next January. He will be missed.

      1. Independent thinking is (or once was) a highly valued American trait. ‘Tis a pity it vanishes at re-election time, when gut reactions to attack adverts replaces it. Maybe we are entering a new era where the best policies are initiated by retiring legislators who no longer need fear the corrosive influence of “special interests.”

  1. The zombie-like Burr-Feinstein proposal is insane.

    The Burr-Feinstein Proposal Is Simply Anti-Security @EFF

    The draft shows how out of touch Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Sens. Burr and Feinstein are with the needs of the American people. Millions of Americans suffer the loss, theft, or compromise of intimate communications, trade secrets, and identities each year. We desperately need more security, not less. Yet this bill would strongly discourage companies from providing it. The draft should never be introduced in a bill and should never advance in the Senate.

    1. Be careful about saying anything truthful and on topic about the situation, you might be censored by folks who can’t stand the truth and don’t give a care about free speech. Fortunately the fine folk at MDN would never do anything that low.

  2. No. I am not fooled. More shithead legislation. I am sure the bill has a loophole statute, thus actually allowing big gub’mnt to get right in; more magic legislation.

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