- A proposed bill, released Friday, would allow judges to order tech companies to comply with law enforcement requests to access data on encrypted devices.
- The bill has been expected for weeks, and follows a legal battle between Apple and the FBI over access to an iPhone used by a mass shooter in San Bernardino.
- All those ordered by a judge would need to respond in a "timely manner" and provide "intelligible information or data, or appropriate technical assistance," according to the draft bill.
Before the bill was formally released, reports surfaced that the White House will not support the draft legislation, though the administration remains divided on the issue.
The type of data the government can seek under the bill encompasses communications, details of identities for the people communicating and any data stored remotely or on a device. It’s not clear yet though what would happen if a company did not obey the order.
"We’re still in the process of soliciting input from stakeholders and hope to have final language ready soon," said Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chair and top Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, respectively. Burr and Feinstein are responsible for introducing the legislation.
Law enforcement has pressured Congress for this type of legislation, but the tech community and privacy advocates generally oppose it. Tech companies have moved toward providing more encryption. Last week, WhatsApp announced that the latest version of the app gives users full encryption as the default setting for all calls, messages, photos, videos, files and voice messages. Google and Snapchat are both reportedly working on projects that would increase privacy technology in their respective products.
Daniel Castro, vice president of think tank the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, said, in an email to CIO magazine, companies that provide end-to-end encryption would have to change their security protections or be in violation of the new law, should it pass.