October 21, 2014

Congress to the FBI: There's 'Zero Chance' We'll Force Apple to Decrypt Phones

The FBI's director wants Congress to force force Apple and Google to do away with default smartphone encryption. Congress, however, doesn’t look to be with him.
Last week, FBI director James Comey suggested that encryption "threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place" and suggested that if Apple and Google don't remove default encryption from iOS and Android then "Congress might have to force this on companies." 
But years of National Security Administration surveillance and other privacy oversteps and surveillance creep by the federal government has lawmakers skittish to do anything that'll be seen as expanding the surveillance state, even if Congress still isn't ready to roll back the laws it already has on the books.
"To FBI Director Comey and the Admin on criticisms of legitimate businesses using encryption: you reap what you sow," California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa tweeted. "The FBI and Justice Department must be more accountable—tough sell for them to now ask the American people for more surveillance power."
Issa holds considerable power on such matters, and The Hill reported that other lawmakers have echoed his sentiments. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (a California democrat who has been staunchly anti surveillance for some years now) said that Comey's proposal would have "zero chance" of passing; Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told the publication that he doubts more than "a handful" of lawmakers would support such a bill.
So, while it’s disappointing Congress won’t roll back NSA surveillance, it’s at least heartening to hear that Congress thinks that passing a bill like Comey has suggested would be political suicide.
Comey repeatedly suggested that "bad guys" use encryption to evade law enforcement, and that it's time to have "conversation as a country about where we are, where we want to be, with respect to the authority of law enforcement."
The Electronic Frontier Foundation points out that we’ve already been through this, back in the 1990s, in what was called the “Crypto Wars.” The Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act states that companies “shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt” communication.


  1. DO NOT FALL FOR IT! Existing members of congress are trying to get you to vote for them. They have consistently voted in favor of NSA spying, they have absolutely zero interest in defending your rights. What they are trying to do is trick you into voting for them again. If they secure your votes, "zero chance" will become "meh 50%" then "yeah we have to decrypt phones for national security." This congress is the most corrupt we have ever had (at least knowingly). We defintly need to secure our privacy, but this congress is not the one to do it. We need to elect an all new set, and to vote for the least lobbied, least bought and (seriously) least known to get an honest seat. Make sure no existing seat gets another opportunity to corrupt us further. After our new congress hands out prison sentences to our current congressman for corruption and war crimes, they can ensure that businesses no longer violate our constitutional right to privacy. DO NOT let this congresses sudden interest in the rights of the peoples trick you into voting for them again. We are at a possible turning point, (more people are aware than ever) DO NOT let is slip past us. Vote Independent, OR at least the least lobbied.

  2. After the election, they'll probably slip it by quietly.

  3. Good answer, because there is zero chance Apple would comply.