Gimme! Gimme! Gimme!

Encryption battle


An attempt by the FBI to force Apple to weaken the security features on an iPhone that belonged to one of the San Bernardino terrorists ended without a final ruling in March, after a third party helped the feds crack the device's passcode.

This solution did nothing to settle the matter of whether the government could legally force tech and communications companies to bypass security protections or add "back doors" to their products. The Manhattan district attorney's office, for example, has dozens of iPhones it wants Apple's help accessing in order to investigate cases. The tech giant, citing a need to keep consumer data secure, has resisted.

In April, Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D–Calif.) and Richard Burr (R–N.C.) stepped in by releasing a draft of legislation to end the conflict. The senators don't seem to have any interest in threading any needles. The "Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016" simply demands that tech companies provide user "information and data to…government in an intelligible format" upon court order. Complying with this law would require every tech company to break its own security, creating an environment where hackers (both private and government-sponsored) could potentially do the same.

Out of concerns that it would weaken citizens' cybersecurity, Sen. Ron Wyden (D–Ore.) said he'll filibuster the bill if it makes it to the Senate floor.