A Senate proposal that would force tech companies to build backdoors to allow legal access to devices and encrypted data would be “very dangerous” for Americans, said the House Democrat leader.
Law enforcement has always relied heavily on technology companies relying on their use of strong encryption, which protects user data from hackers and theft, but the government says it makes it harder to apprehend criminals charged with serious crimes. Technical companies like The night and Google have more than doubled their security efforts in recent years due to data security with encryption that they can not even decrypt.
The Senate Republics were introduced in June their latest “legal access” bill, renewing previous attempts to force technology companies to enforce the law on user data when a court order provides it.
“It’s dangerous for Americans, because it’s going to be hacked, it’s going to be used, and there’s no way it can be secured,” reporter Zoe Lofgren, whose congressional seat occupies much of Silicon Valley, told TechCrunch Destroy 2020. “If we remove encryption, we will only free ourselves from hacking and mass hacking,” she said.
Lofgren’s comments respond to critics and security experts who have long criticized attempts to crack down on encryption, saying there is no way to create a back door to law enforcement that would not be used by hackers.
Many previous attempts by parliamentarians to weaken and crack down on encryption failed. Now, law enforcement has to use existing tools and techniques to find vulnerabilities in phones and computers. The FBI has claimed for years that it has thousands of devices that it cannot access, but in 2018 it admitted that it continuously increased the number of encrypted devices it had and the number of investigations that resulted in a negative impact.
Lofgren served in the first Congress called the “Crypto Crypts” in 1995, when the security community fought the federal government to achieve strong encryption. In 2016, Lofgren was on the Home Justice Committee’s encryption working group. The group’s latest report, which is bipartisan but not mandatory, found that any measures to crack down on encryption “work against the national interest.”
Still, it is a talking point that the government continues to make, even this year when the U.S. Attorney General William Barr said the American must accept security risks posed by encryption backends.
“You can not safely remove the encryption,” Lofgren told TechCrunch. “If you do, you will create chaos in the country and for Americans, not to mention others around the world,” she said. “The only thing that is not safe, and we can not allow it.”