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‘Secure Data Act’ Would Block FBI Requests for Backdoor Access to Electronic Devices

‘Secure Data Act’ Would Block FBI Requests for Backdoor Access to Electronic Devices

A bipartisan bill currently being proposed in Congress would prevent any future battles between the government (read that as “The FBI”) and Apple over backdoor access to iPhones. The “Secure Data Act” would “prohibit Federal agencies from mandating the deployment of vulnerabilities in data security technologies.”

No court may issue an order to compel a manufacturer, developer, or seller of covered products to design or alter the security functions in its product or service to allow the surveillance of any user of such product or service, or to allow the physical search of such product, by an agency.

Although wiretaps would still be permitted under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, it would not allow the government to demand that end-to-end encryption used in messaging systems to be weakened.

The bill is a bipartisan, backed by three Democrats and three Republicans: Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Poe (R-TX), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL).

The Electronic Frontier Foundation welcomed the bill, saying:

This welcome piece of legislation reflects much of what the community of encryption researchers, scientists, developers, and advocates have explained for decades—there is no such thing as a secure backdoor. Just last week, EFF convened a panel of true experts on Capitol Hill to explain why government-mandated backdoors face insurmountable technical challenges and will weaken computer security for all. Given that the DOJ and FBI continue to rely on flawed theoretical approaches to key escrow in pushing for “responsible encryption,” we’re glad to see some Congress members are listening to the experts and taking this important step to protect anyone who uses an encrypted device or service.

There have been a number of court battles between law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, and Apple over access to iOS devices that may have information stored on them related to criminal and terrorist investigations.

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