Top Judiciary Republican sees potential for bipartisan agreement on cyber issues

Top Judiciary Republican sees potential for bipartisan agreement on cyber issues
© Greg Nash

The top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday laid out a series of cyber issues where he hopes to work with Democrats this Congress.

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsDemocrats, GOP poised to pounce on Mueller findings Facebook, Google face tough questions over white nationalism Lawmakers to grill tech companies over white nationalism MORE (R-Ga.), who recently became the ranking member of the panel, named a series of cyber areas — like data privacy, the Cloud Act, and encryption — that can be addressed in a bipartisan manner.

In the case of data privacy, Collins remarked to reporters how cellphone carriers, particularly those using Android products, could trace reporters to the Capitol Hill meeting room where the sit-down talk was taking place. 

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Collins says he wants to explore “what is actually captured even when you believe it to be turned off,” and  “what is the reason for that?”

He suggested most Americans probably don’t know these companies are collecting this location data, which New York Times reported detailed last month to be extensive, including the near-exact routes people take to and from work.

The Georgia lawmaker also said he also wants to get the Cloud Act, of which he is a cosponsor, moved this year. Under the bill, U.S. authorities who are leading a criminal investigation could seek to gain access to communications data stored in other countries.

“The CLOUD Act paves the way for the U.S. to forge bilateral agreements establishing frameworks for fighting crime and terrorism and for guarding information stored electronically,” Collins said in a statement last year when he joined other lawmakers supporting the bill.

Collins also talked about the need to come up with a solution with the problem known as “going dark,” where authorities cannot break into encrypted devices during investigations despite having warrants do search the cellphone.

He argued that there could be a balance achieved between security and privacy.

The FBI has long argued that law enforcement should have the ability to pry open cellphones as a way of protecting domestic security, but such efforts have been resisted by tech companies and privacy advocates.

Collins has a history working with Democrats. Last year, he teamed up with Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesDems attack Barr's credibility after report of White House briefings on Mueller findings The Hill's 12:30 Report: Assange faces US charges after dramatic arrest Dem leader: Trump's Fed picks like something out of 'SNL' MORE (D-N.Y.) to get criminal justice reform signed into law.