Reuters reports that support for a law requiring technology companies to give law enforcement agencies a “backdoor” to user’s encrypted communications and electronic devices – such as the iPhone – has waned, and the legislation looks to be dead, at least for now.
The proposed legislation came in the wake of a U.S. federal judge’s order to compel Apple to help the FBI to unlock the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting that left 14 people dead.
The FBI wanted to force Apple to create a special version of iOS that would disable the passcode security on Farook’s iPhone 5c, allowing them to use a “brute force” method of unlocking the device.
Soon after, in a typically political knee-jerk reaction fashion, a Senate Intelligence Committee encryption bill was announced soon by committee leaders Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, which would force companies such as Apple to aid government investigators seeking to retrieve data from a locked device.
That bill found itself lacking in support from either side of the aisle. The Obama administration also failed to show any support for the bill, with former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden saying the White House had “dropped anchor and taken down the sail.”
While Senator Burr insists the legislation is still in play, no timeline for a vote on the bill has bene announced. The political will to support the bill seems to have died out, at least for this legislative session, as legislators continue to stick their finger in the winds of opinion to decide which way to go with their next “emergency legislation.”
This certainly won’t be the last we see of attempts like this to break into user’s devices, as the FBI continues to push for litigation over the encryption of mobile devices, with FBI director James Comey calling encryption an “essential tradecraft” of terrorist organizations such as ISIS.