A draft of the the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016 was released last night. Created by Senate Intelligence Committee leaders Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and Diane Feinstein (D-California), the bill requires technology companies to decrypt data when served with a legal order. It essentially prevents end-to-end encryption and is the government’s knee-jerk response to the disagreement between the FBI and Apple in the San Bernadino iPhone case.
Naturally security experts have heavily criticized the proposed legislation. Jonathan Zdziarski is especially brutal (and rightfully so) in his assessment:
The absurdity of this bill is beyond words. Due to the technical ineptitude of its authors, combined with a hunger for unconstitutional governmental powers, the end result is a very dangerous document that will weaken the security of America’s technology infrastructure. This will affect everything from the iPhone you hold in your pocket to how data is transmitted over the Internet, allowing the government to effectively break all electronic commerce and Internet security. This is bad legislation in every way, and it very subtly allows for unconstitutional government control of private industry.
I’m particularly disappointment that Diane Feinstein co-authored this bill. She has not proven to even try to understand the technology involved. We need to start electing officials who are versed in tech and can balance constitutional principles with foresight.