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Senator vows filibuster of controversial encryption bill

Today, legislators published an official draft of a controversial new encryption bill, a measure seeking to compel company assistance in decrypting private communications in the wake of the San Bernardino case. Dubbed the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016, the official text is slightly modified from the version that leaked last week, but contains many of the same provisions that had infuriated privacy activists last week, including a broad view of the information providers would be expected to turn over upon request.

So far, technology and privacy groups have been hostile to the bill, including the Software Alliance, the App Association and the ITIF. The ACLU called the earlier draft “a clear threat to everyone’s privacy and security.” If the bill does pass, the Electronic Frontier Foundation has pledged a legal effort that would keep the measures “tied up in the courts for years.”

“a clear threat to everyone’s privacy and security”

But the most vocal opposition has come from within Congress itself. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) went so far as to pledge a filibuster of the bill if it reaches the Senate floor. “This flawed bill would leave americans more vulnerable to stalkers, identity thieves, foreign hackers and criminals,” Wyden said in an official statement. “And yet it will not make us safer from terrorists or other threats.”

The bill has yet to be formally introduced into committee, let alone reach Congress, and the Senators are still soliciting input and revisions to the final text. Still, the bill’s authors made it clear they would not allow encryption systems to remain indifferent to government orders. “No entity or individual is above the law,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in a statement. “The bill we have drafted would simply provide that, if a court of law issues an order to render technical assistance or provide decrypted data, the company or individual would be required to do so.


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