Intel leaders push controversial encryption draft

Intel leaders push controversial encryption draft
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The leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday upped their push for a bill to ensure the growing availability of commercial encryption does not “undermine the justice system.”

“We believe that strong data security and compliance with the justice system don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Sens. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrSenators chart path forward on election security bill Overnight Cybersecurity: Staff changes upend White House cyber team | Trump sends cyber war strategy to Congress | CIA pick to get hearing in May | Malware hits Facebook accounts Senators express concerns over Haspel's 'destruction of evidence' MORE (R-N.C.) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSunday Shows Preview: Emmanuel Macron talks ahead of state dinner CIA declassifies memo on nominee's handling of interrogation tapes Senate panel punts Mueller protection bill to next week MORE (D-Calif.) wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. “We think that finding a way to achieve both goals simultaneously is not beyond [technology companies’] capabilities.”

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The Intel leaders are circulating a draft proposal that would require companies to provide data to law enforcement in a readable format when served with a court order, or provide technical assistance to help authorities unlock a device.

The bill is a response to concerns that criminals are increasingly using encrypted technology to hide from law enforcement.

Citing the terrorist shooting in Garland, Texas, last year — in which FBI Director James B. Comey has said the attackers “exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist” that the agency can’t read — and an unsolved murder in Louisiana, Burr and Feinstein called the status quo “unacceptable.”

Critics of the draft argue that it would undermine security and endanger online privacy by forcing companies to intentionally build weaknesses into their encryption.

Burr and Feinstein pushed back on those claims on Wednesday.

“The proposal doesn’t define the technological solutions or tell businesses how to solve the problem,” the wrote. “We want to provide businesses with full discretion to decide how best to design and build systems that maintain data security while at the same time complying with court orders.”

Arguing that tech companies already maintain access to vast amounts of encryption personal information like credit card numbers, the senators argued that the proposal does not ask companies to provide law enforcement with “unfettered” access to data.

“All we are doing is asking companies to find a way to keep their data secure while also cooperating with law enforcement in terrorism and criminal investigations,” they wrote.