Sens. Burr, Feinstein Release Formal Draft of Encryption Law, Show They Still Don't Get It

Sen. Wyden threatens a filibuster to block it.


Red Queen
"Alice in Wonderland," Disney Pictures

When a draft version of the encryption-busting bill written by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) was leaked last week, the response was a deafening clamor of ringing criticism for how simple-minded, technically ignorant, and dangerously reckless it was. The legislation responded to the struggles by law enforcement and investigators to access encrypted tech devices and communications by simply ordering tech companies to comply with court orders to decrypt and provide them the information. The end.

There was bafflingly no engagement in any of the concerns that such measures would weaken and threaten the security of all of our data. There was no interest in the possibility that some types of encryption could make it actually impossible to comply with the court order at all. All it cared about was giving the government access to data on demand. It's probably one of the most tech-illiterate pieces of legislation ever crafted.

That was the leaked draft. Today, after all that outrage and backlash, Feinstein and Burr released an actual formal draft of the law. Did they consider any of overwhelmingly critical reaction to the leaked version?

Nope. It still contains the obstinate, absurd "THE RED QUEEN DEMANDS!" language. What has been added to the draft bill are limits to the types of crimes for which the law may apply. But even those limits are written very broadly, covering any crimes that lead to (or threaten to lead to) death or serious bodily harm, espionage and terrorism, crimes against minors, serious violent felonies, and serious drug crimes—and the state-level equivalent of such crimes.

So nothing of substance has changed and they're still pushing forward with this law with the tiresome "nobody is above the law" argument that fails to actually consider whether the law remotely makes sense. Via NBC:

"No entity or individual is above the law," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, who co-authored the bill with fellow Senate Intelligence Committee member Sen. Richard Burr, R-North Carolina. "Today, terrorists and criminals are increasingly using encryption to foil law enforcement efforts, even in the face of a court order. We need strong encryption to protect personal data, but we also need to know when terrorists are plotting to kill Americans."

If the Congress passed a law requiring all Americans to be able to run a four-minute mile upon orders of the court, would those couch potatoes who couldn't do so be described as being "above the law"? Off with their heads!

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) spoke out against the law, saying it would make us all "more vulnerable to stalkers, identity thieves, foreign hackers and criminals." He said that if the bill actually makes it to the Senate floor, he would filibuster it.

In slightly better tech privacy news, the Email Privacy Act passed unanimously out of the House Judiciary Committee. This legislation would close a loophole that permits law enforcement officials to read your old stored emails or digital communications that are more than 180 days old without having to get a warrant (instead requiring just a subpoena). It still, nevertheless, has a long way to go, despite having a huge number of House co-sponsors. And keep in mind this is just the House. Given how a couple of powerful senators view your right to tech privacy and how they feel the government should be able to access your data with a simple demand, it may have a fight ahead.

NEXT: Tonight! Anthony Fisher on Fox Business' Kennedy

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  1. Way to go Dallas Wyden!!

  2. When did Alan Grayson go the Caitlyn Jenner route?

  3. Maybe cops should all have keys to our houses as well.

  4. It would be better if she had aids.

    1. I think you meant AIDS

      1. She wants every one to drink the cool aid.

  5. “…It’s probably one of the most tech-illiterate pieces of legislation ever crafted…”

    Boxer didn’t get a chance yet.

    1. King Canute would applaud.

  6. Reason has not been consistent on this. About 15 years ago I purchased an electronic subscription to Reason magazine and received a complimentary paper magazine with the heading “The End of Privacy”, or the like. Reason published individually oriented covers with a Google map of where they thought I lived. Gillespie is all over the place on this one and I don’t fault him for that. But glass houses.

    1. Reason published individually oriented covers with a Google map of where they thought I lived.

      Way to use those donations wisely.

    2. “Gillespie is all over the place on this one and I don’t fault him for that.”

      I don’t think that issue was applauding the lack of privacy, but serving as a warning. Sort of like this article.

      1. Yeah, it was sort of “The Libertarian Case for No More Privacy, Ever”.

        I wasn’t buying it, either.

    3. Google…the Government. Same thing, yeah?

    4. That was my last dead tree subscription. It was reminiscent of when American Rifleman had a cover of an ATF agent sitting in front of his computer looking at a gun owner database and my name and street address was on the screen. I miss paper magazines with customized covers illustrating the threat of state authority.

      1. Enh, mine was off by a quarter mile, so I just laughed it off.

      2. I put some money in the till for Reason last fall. I hadn’t done that for about 5 years. Ever since I have been getting dead tree brochures in the mail about once per week. And a water bottle. STOP IT! You owe me nothing in return and visa versa.

        1. So, I made a twenty dollar bet, and lost, and donated 20. It’s not much, but if i did it several times a year it would start adding up. And if it became a thing (a meme is what the kids are calling it), then think of all the money reason could raise. And we could give all the gambling addicts a productive outlet. Also, a twenty dollar donation, Reason ain’t gonna send you squat but an emailed receipt. Now, twentyfive dollars and they send you something, I don’t remember what.

          1. I guess it would be a water bottle?

        2. After I signed up for a commenting account, Reason sold my e-mail to all kinds of hard core socon groups so that every day I would get dozens of bigoted e-mails hating on foreigners, gays, non-Christians, etc. I ended up have to switch e-mail providers to get away from it.

          I hope they got a lot of money for that e-mail list, because it assured they’ll never get a donation from me. I don’t trust them with my mailing address.

  7. Derp: the final frontier. These are the tales of Derpetologist. His continuing mission: to explore strange new fools; to seek out new morons and imbeciles. To boldly roll his eyes where no one has rolled them before….

    So, there is an upcoming film about sentient food. It’s basically an R-rated spoof of Pixar movies. As soon as I heard of it, I knew animal rights nuts would get butt hurt about it. A quick search later:

    Sounds weirdly familiar, right? What else has emotion, can feel fear, doesn’t want to be slaughtered and is capable of forming relationships? Sentient animals, where these meat products come from. I’m all for inanimate objects talking, but the fact that meat comes from animals just screams PLOT HOLE to me, and I find the entire concept to be super unsettling and reflective of the way we treat living animals. I’m not offended as much as I’m rolling my eyes into the back of my skull.


    It’s not a plot hole. It’s just stupid.

    Oh, and the potato has an Irish accent. Wow, that’s clever. Does the watermelon speak Ebonics?

    [Hate Speech Trigger Word Sad Cry Frown Klaxon begins to blare]

    1. What else would a potato sound like?

      1. Do folks from Idaho have an accent?

        1. There are several Idaho accents.

      2. Well, they are indigenous to the Andes, so….wait, what does a SJW screaming about cultural appropriation sound like?

      3. Like Matt Damon overdosing on Vicodin?

      4. They’re originally from Peru. The current leading producer of potatoes is China. And the name comes from Taino by way of Spanish.

        It just annoys me that the film makers are the same sort of people who would feign outrage if someone made a cartoon bag of rice speaking with a Chinese accent. Nobody worries about microaggressing the Irish- probably because they are too drunk to care.

        1. The 25% Irish in me that is 100% drunk agrees.

          1. That doesn’t mean your name isn’t problematic.

      5. The Polish immigrations to the States, like the Irish ones, were triggered by potato famines.

    2. I feel like it could be funny, and I also feel like all the funny parts were in the that trailer.

    3. Oh boy, got another one:

      Sausage Party is a wildly imaginative new animated film where the food is sentient and doesn’t want to be killed and eaten by humans. This is very unlike reality where much of the food was sentient and didn’t want to be killed and eaten by humans.

      Charles Horn is the author of Meat Logic: Why Do We Eat Animals? Charles is an Emmy-nominated writer and producer with credits including Fugget About It, Robot Chicken, and Robot Chicken: Star Wars. He has a Ph.D. from Princeton University, and holds five degrees in engineering and mathematics.

      I wonder if he walks around with a hat that says “I’m smarter than you”.

      5 STEM degrees and he writes fart jokes for a living?!

      1. Charles Horn: People have been trained to think a certain way biased on our society for thousands of years.

        Caryn Hartglass: Yup.

        Charles Horn: So we’re at this level where we can’t even think properly on this subject.

        Caryn Hartglass: Yup. You can’t think properly, that’s a good one.

        Charles Horn: Yeah, so that’s what it became about. It became sort of just, no like, “Hey you’re wrong” kind of thing, but just “Hey let’s think about this for a second.” Let’s not tackle your question itself, but let’s tackle how you’re thinking about the problem, like here’s a way of looking at it compared to different situations where you already know how to think better.

        Caryn Hartglass: I’m glad you brought that up. I wanted to talk about the image that many of us have of being preachy. It’s hard not to sound preachy.

        Charles Horn: Yeah that’s very true. I try very hard in the book to not be that type. But yeah we’re basically going to be in that situation because they willfully don’t want to think about this. The only way to change is forcing them to think about this. It’s the same thing that other social justice issues went through in the past where people didn’t like them, but now we consider them normal and heroes, you know?

        Caryn Hartglass: Right. George Washington was a terrorist.

        Charles Horn: Exactly.

        1. It gets better:

          Here’s somebody like me, who has five degrees, I got a PHD from Princeton. I did not know that you have to get a cow pregnant to get milk, I mean, that’s embarrassing.

          Gee Chuck, it’s almost as if all those degrees did not confer omniscience on you. Perhaps you should reflect on that.

      2. Caryn Hartglass: For me, it’s a big picture. I’m against racism, homophobes, Speciesism, and all those isms whatever. I want to eliminate pain and suffering. Let’s get away from exploitation. With the big picture, everything applies. Unfortunately, history has shown us that we take baby steps. And we’re not even there in places where we think that we’ve gotten far. Like with women’s rights or civil rights. We still have slaves around the world and in this country. Although it may not be apparent to people, there are semi slaves. People recognize it as horrible, but these things still exist. So we move slowly in improving women’s rights, and people of color where ever we can and animal exploitation seems to be last because they don’t have a voice.

        Charles Horn: yeah. That’s true, but there is one important difference. We’re kind of seeing it in terms of how we speak. The LGBT. We could see in our lifetime, of how they’re not fully there, it’s turning the corner where it’s not going to go back. Like did you get that sense that we have turned that corner?

        Caryn Hartglass: It’s inevitable. It’s frustrating but inevitable. Television, and the sitcoms have helped that.

        Charles Horn: Hahah that’s true, that’s true.

        Caryn Hartglass: I need you to write one!

        Charles Horn: I have one that needs funding.

        Caryn Hartglass: Oh funding. I’m so tired of that.

        1. Well, I guess the upshot here is that he knows how to do math.

        2. Charles Horn: I have one that needs funding.

          Caryn Hartglass: Oh funding. I’m so tired of that.

          You’re not fooling me – that’s some sort of performance art/comedy routine.

          1. I actually listened to some of the interview and hearing it live is not any more generous to the parties concerned.

        3. Here’s the thing = I’m 100% in support of people who want to be vegetarian, who want to be vegan, who want to be kosher, or who want to be macro-biotic, or who want to subsist entirely on a diet of live-hamsters. More Power to them all.

          But the part where they lose me is = why the fuck do they care what *i* eat?

          the premise of his book is supposedly ‘responding to bad arguments made by meat-eaters’… but when do the meatists run around *trying to convince vegans* of anything? Mostly i (or we) smile and nod and forget all about their diet choices….because we don’t care

          But the reality is that the guys book mostly seems to be about helping Vegans *harass and hector meat-eaters*. Which, during the interview, they both sort of claim/admit they never do.. (“i’ve lost friends, etc).. while claiming that they “don’t want to be preachy”…

          ….so then it seems… the entire point of the book is simply to *reinforce their own beliefs to themselves*.

          Which from what i can tell is really what its about. Giving people arguments to remind themselves why their personal choices make them better people.

          Why they need that, i have no idea.

          1. Anyone who uses the term “speciesism” without irony is mentally ill. Because their claims that no animal species morally has the right to kill another animal is not only silly on its face, it contains the arbitrary line at the Animal kingdom, somehow absolving the killing and eating of organisms from the other kingdoms. It is an utterly incoherent philosophy founded on the notion that “feelings” are the most important thing…. but feelings reduced to the notion of “being able to perceive pain”. Really a bizarre philosophy.

            I first heard someone using it when I was in grad school (molecular biology) and one of the other PhD candidates was lecturing some of us about her superior vegan ways. Being me, I couldn’t help but poke the beehive. She happened to be eating yogurt and a salad at the time, so I questioned her about he morality of eating all those nematodes that were literally covering the lettuce. Millions of little animals off to their deaths, while I only killed one cow to feed hundreds of people delicious hamburgers.

            Needless to say, a friendship was not born that day….

      3. Yep, Mr. Horn should be a warning to us all.

        You take someone with evidence of certified brilliance including 5 STEM degrees from a top institution and Robot Chicken: Start Wars, yet he’s capable of writing Meat Logic.

        Proving that no matter how brilliant one is, without principled focus on objectivity, humans are prone to believing things or acting in such ways, as to call into question that individual’s intellectual faculties irregardless of prior proven successes.

        Like Newton, arguably one of the smartest humans we know to have ever lived, died broke after a series of poor financial decisions and simmering like 80% of his writings/research is useless due to its focus on alchemy and similar “magic”.

        Einstein spent most of his life after publishing his brilliant theory trying to disprove portions of it because he didn’t like the consequences. He believed in God and an ordered universe, whereas some consequences of his theory included the unpredictability of the quantum world.

        Not that I’m stunned of these examples their idiocy overshadowed their brilliance, but the point is, taken Mr. Horn’s background and his current beliefs he, like many others, can serve as a warning to us all – that without principled diligence, anyone can easily, strongly, and with seemingly perfect logic, believe things and/or act in ways, that if they live long enough, will be a never ending source of regret.

        1. “” regret.””

          I agree with what you’re saying, but i suspect his passion for a ‘less-animal-suffering-world’ isn’t something that will be a source of regret, so much as his perceived means of avoiding it. some people have very complex ego-demands. everyone wants to be a ‘good person’ (or at least the non-sociopathic ones); its just that people can get very-caught-up in figuring out what that really means, and end up settling on some really dumb shit as their easy-answer.

          see the cow-protester below; who doesn’t even need ‘veganism’ to motivate her moral authority, so much as the belief that “Cute Things Should Never Die”

      4. Derpetologist: You are going in too deep, you are going to drown in the derp.

      5. Douglas Adams foresaw animals that want to be eaten before this clown came up with this. Male spiders will copulate with females knowing they will become lunch. The Red Junglefowl aka the chicken, like many animal species are much more populous because they are easily raised for meat. Evolutionary coincidence?

      6. Very *well-constructed* fart jokes.

    4. and the potato has an Irish accent. Wow, that’s clever. Does the watermelon speak Ebonics?

      ppppptt dude not cool….

      ..obviously that’s the Kool Aid

  8. If they were really serious about fighting terrorism, they would nuke the planet

    1. nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

  9. nobody is above the law

    If the law is immoral, then actually I do consider myself above it. Maybe the guys with guns can beat me into submission, but that’s not evidence that they or the law are above me.

    1. Anybody who says that should be asked if the would have supported the fugitive slave act, turned in their Jewish neighbors, rat out the guy down the hall playing records on the proscribed list . . .

  10. BTW, celebs-speaking-on-matters-within-their-expertise, example #2:

    “Robert De Niro wants scientists to ‘find the truth’ about autism and vaccines”

    Translation: De Niro wants them to support his fantasies.

    1. The “Raging Bull” star, 72, recently revealed his 18-year-old son Elliot suffers from the developmental disorder after defending his decision to include a controversial anti-vaccination documentary in the line-up of his Tribeca Film Festival.

      Maybe it’s just your old spunk, Bob.

    2. Pretty much.

      I saw him making a statement to the effect “If I feel this deeply about it, then there must be something there.”

      1. To paraphrase Spinoza: beliefs from facts are defended with facts; beliefs from emotions are defended with emotions.

        That about wraps it up.

  11. “No entity or individual is above the law,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein

    Citation needed.

    1. See: Clinton, Bill, Hillary

    2. “No entity or individual is above the law,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein

      Unless you’re a politician, in which case you unleash horrible laws on the hoi-polloi then write in exemptions for you and your staff.

      Wait, you’re telling me Feinstein is a politician? And she got mad when it came out she got spied on too?
      Besides possible constitutional violations, Feinstein said the CIA may also have violated the Fourth Amendment, various federal laws and a presidential executive order that bars the agency from conducting domestic searches and surveillance. She said she has asked for an apology and recognition that the CIA search of the committee’s computers was inappropriate, but, “I have received neither.”

      By the way, I am entirely capable of being above the law, if the law is a steaming pile of manure.

  12. Feinstein needs to rewatch her Schoolhouse Rock: her bill is not the law yet. Talk about begging the question.

    1. There are a lot of flag burners who have got to much freedom
      I want to make it legal for policemen to beat ’em
      ‘Cause there’s limits to our liberty
      Least I hope and pray that there are
      ‘Cause those liberal freaks go too far

  13. Things you never learned in school: the British tested mustard gas on Indian soldiers in the 1930s


    Porton Down officials have argued that trials took place in a different era, during a conflict, and so their conduct should not be judged by today’s standards.

    Was one of those officials Lionel Hutz?

    “Your honor, when my client beat that guy to death last Thursday, that was in a different era and he was really pissed off, so his conduct should not be judged by today’s standards.”

  14. “Sens. Burr, Feinstein Release Formal Draft of Encryption Law, Show They Still Don’t Get It”

    Nonsense. These two are not some disingenuous, naive, old-timers without a full staff that cleaves to their demands, who just “don’t get it.” They are fully aware of what they will unleash on the public, and they simply DO NOT GIVE A CRAP.

    They are bought and paid for by the military industrial complex, in all its aspects; and are controlled by the unelected spy agencies and their crony lobbyists. Feinstein was the Chair of the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence from 2009-2015, and Burr is the current Chair. Also, no surprise, they both are committee members of Appropriations, Judiciary, and Rules.

    1. I think I’m in love.

  15. Spot the Not: John Ashcroft

    1. The objective of securing the safety of Americans from crime and terror has been achieved.

    2. I’m trying to think of all the reasons that are appropriate for me to refuse to answer that question.

    3. [singing] Let the eagle soar
    Like she’s never soared before
    From rocky coast to golden shore
    Let the mighty eagle soar
    Soar with healing in her wings
    As the land beneath her sings

    4. Unique among the nations, America recognized the source of our character as being godly and eternal, not being civic and temporal. And because we have understood that our source is eternal, America has been different. We have no king but Jesus.

    5. To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve.

    6. I don’t think it’s quite fair to condemn a whole program because of a single slip-up.

    1. I say 6. That was …. something else.

    2. I guess 6.

      I remember a few of them. I hate the man, but I remember him saying #2 in front of a congressional committee. That takes balls.

    3. I’ll buck my fear of conformity and say 6 as well.

      1. DO IT YOU FAG

        1. You’re turgid, son. I blame fluoide.

    4. Well shucks, I guess there’s no fooling any of you.

      Gen Buck Turgidson said 6 in Dr Strangelove.

      1. most movie quotes are too easy. Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Strangelove? you’ll need to try plumbing bad-bond-villians to find less recognizable material

    1. Yes. Yes I will. I’m going to show up every morning at nine-ish at my quiet little corner of capitalism and do the best job I can. Politicians can go fuck themselves..

      1. My Quiet Litthe Corner of Capitalism.

  16. “No entity or individual is above the law,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein,

    Except the Federal Government, with special protections for the IRS. Lois Lerner, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama.

  17. Someone ask this woman where babies come from.

    Over the years, Benner’s farm has evolved into a popular attraction for strawberry picking, birthday parties, and class trips for kids. Which is how Kimberly Sherriton, a mother from Commack, got involved with a farm cow that she saw at a birthday party.

    Sherriton became heartbroken when she heard that the 2-year-old cow will end up on the Benner’s family dinner table.
    “He doesn’t need this cow to survive and feed his family. He puts a sob story on there. Please, tell him to go to Whole Foods and go get some anti-biotic free beef there,” she said.

    1. IT. BURNS.

    2. Every person involved in the protest mentioned in that article, and the people harassing the poor farmer, are too stupid to live.

    3. Please, tell him to go to Whole Foods and go get some anti-biotic free beef there,” she said.

      Barcodes make everything better. Even meat-murder.

      1. You notice that she talks about the cow on one part, but she talks about buying “beef” on the other?

        I think this woman is so dumb she doesn’t know that beef comes from cows.

        1. in the TV segment which that quote is from, she adds, “he doesn’t need to kill a pet”

          she seems under the impression that caring for an animal means you’re never allowed to eat it. Only ‘sanitized’, second-hand purchase of meat from a vendor absolves you of the sin of murder.

        2. Right, Lisa, like there’s some magical animal…

          1. +1 Shmoo.

  18. Meanwhile, Ted Cruz & Mike Lee are trying to take down Operation Chokepoint


    But hey something something sex toys

    1. “”If the bill passes the Senate, it will then head to Obama’s desk for approval.””


      1. Would you always, maybe sometimes, make it easy? Take your time…

        1. I admire what they’re doing.

          Its not something that necessarily helps Cruz as a candidate (tho he’s emphasizing the gun-store aspect so cynical-me believes it has some value)…. there are certainly lawℴ GOP types who loves them more-power of any sort. Plus its very-hard on porn-businesses as well.

          but i suspect the rest of the senate might see no point. unless they just want to get his reasons for veto in writing. Which i can see being useful for a news story or 2. but he’ll just tar them as being ‘pro-slimeball-business!’ like Payday Loan companies and “make your own pipe-bomb” suppliers.

  19. “any crimes that lead to (or threaten to lead to) death or serious bodily harm”

    I’m pretty sure jaywalking can lead to death or serious bodily harm if you step into the street at just the wrong time.

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