Major tech companies come together in an open letter against controversial decryption bill


We told you this saga wasn’t over, didn’t we? Shortly after the FBI and Apple ended their squabble over unlocking an encrypted iPhone, US senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein drafted and proposed a bill that could look to actively undermine smartphone security forever.

Well, that bill drew the attention of 4 major tech coalitions — the ESA, I2C, RGS and CCIA — representing some big names, including Google, Facebook, and Apple. The letter expressed deep concern over a future where this bill was passed into law:

We write to express our deep concerns about well-intentioned but ultimately unworkable policies around encryption that would weaken the very defenses we need to protect us from people who want to cause economic and physical harm. We believe it is critical to the safety of the nation’s, and the world’s, information technology infrastructure for us all to avoid actions that will create government-mandated security vulnerabilities in our encryption systems.

The bill, in few and layman’s terms, states that manufacturers would be required to build encrypted smartphones in a way that they know how to decrypt them, and that those smartphones must be decrypted at the request of law enforcement who have applicable warrants. It’s not a backdoor, but it would give law enforcement carte blanche (warrant withstanding, of course) access to smartphone data even if the owner’s information is encrypted.

As we said before, this basically means you have no right to privacy in the event that your phone is seized and searched in an investigation. If you buy a phone and a warrant is ever served to search its information, you would have zero expectation that your phone’s information is protected.

This is not to mention what could happen if decryption keys and methods fell into the wrong hands. Write your state senators and let your voices be heard on this bill whether you feel one way or the other, because it could be what defines the state of smartphone security in the United States forever.


Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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