U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham’s encryption attack masquerading as a “child protection” bill could threaten Apple’s and other tech companies’ use of encryption and a liability exemption they prize.
The draft bill from Graham, the South Carolina Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, mounts a double attack against encrypted services such as Apple Inc.’s iCloud [sic] [recte iMessage service] and Facebook Inc.’s WhatsApp chat. It jeopardizes technology companies’ immunity to lawsuits by victims for violating child exploitation and abuse statutes and it lowers the standard to bring such cases.
The bipartisan measure, which was obtained by Bloomberg and hasn’t yet been formally introduced, would affect a wide range of social media companies, cloud service providers, email and text platforms and other technology services. It could put Facebook in the government’s crosshairs for its plans to encrypt all of its messaging apps and undercut Apple’s refusal to create back doors into its devices and services.
“The absolute worst-case scenario could easily become reality,” said Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, a libertarian think tank aligned with technology companies. “DOJ could effectively ban end-to-end encryption.”
MacDailyNews Note: Graham’s bill is called the “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act,” or “EARN IT Act.”
The Justice Department has tentatively scheduled a Feb. 19 meeting on the future of the immunity known as Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, according to a person familiar with the plans. The provision protects platforms from responsibility for content posted by third parties.
Although the measure doesn’t directly mention encryption, it would require that companies work with law enforcement to identify, remove, report and preserve evidence related to child exploitation — which critics said would be impossible to do for services such as WhatsApp that are encrypted from end-to-end.
If technology companies don’t certify that they are following the best practices set by the 15-member commission, they would lose the legal immunity they currently enjoy under Section 230 relating to child exploitation and abuse laws. That would open the door to lawsuits for “reckless” violations of those laws, a lower standard than contained in current statutes.
MacDailyNews Take: When pressed, they usually resort to using children as the vector to get what they want: the elimination of personal privacy and the ability to snoop on anyone’s iPhone.
In January 2018, we asked, “How soon until the government spooks play the Think of the Children™ card in their misguided quest to shred the Constitution?” Looks like we have our answer: Two years.
Think of The Children™. Whenever you hear that line of horseshit, look for ulterior motives. Fear mongers: Those who use of fear, scare tactics, and emotional appeals in attempts to influence the opinions and actions of others towards some specific end. — MacDailyNews, September 30, 2014
The criminals will always be able to use end-to-end encryption. Measures like this hurt only law-abiding citizens by making it possible to invade privacy, conduct mass surveillance, and God only know what else. The criminals will have their privacy while law-abiding citizens will have their privacy stripped away.
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 funds 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
Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759