- Though the administration remains divided, the White House will not support draft legislation that would allow judges to further require tech companies to help law enforcement break into encrypted data, according to a Reuters report.
- The bipartisan legislation is expected this week from Sens. Richard Burr, R-N.C., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chair and top Democrat of the Senate Intelligence Committee, respectively.
- The proposed legislation would allow federal judges to order tech companies to cooperate with the government, but does not specify what they might have to do or the potential circumstances for a judges' order. The bill does not create "specific penalties" for companies that refuse to comply.
The news comes on the heels of the Department of Justice's decision to drop efforts against Apple after successfully unlocking the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooter.
According to Reuters, the White House has both reviewed the legislation and offered feedback, but it is unlikely to offer public input. The lack of support form the Obama administration highlights the divisiveness of the issue. And it signifies the likelihood that the encryption debate will remain deadlocked.
On one side, the government wants to guarantee that in ongoing investigations and emergency situations, they can access devices that could hold necessary information. But for the tech industry, the issue is about privacy and protecting consumers' data.
As Tim Cook said during Apple product event in March, "we did not expect to be in this position at odds with our own government, but we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy."
For tech companies, encryption is likely to become the rule rather than the exception. WhatsApp announced this week that its mobile messaging app will have end-to-end encryption on all communication, from calls to messages to photos. Google and Snapchat are both reportedly working on projects that would increase privacy technology in their respective products.