The Encryption Wars of the 90’s Are Back!
For those of you old enough to remember the dawn of the popular Internet in the mid 90’s remember that the Federal Government went ape shit over the idea of encryption of data. That the Internet would “go dark” and law enforcement would not be able to access information. Such a thing had never happened before in history. No one before 1993 had ever thought of the idea of BURNING INCRIMINATING PAPERS, this was a totally new thing and applied only to data stored on computers… /sarc
The government’s reaction was to force something called the Clipper Chip down everyone’s throat. A good history summary is available here.
The TL:DR version: The Government lost the Encryption Wars mostly because the tech industry as well as tech people and people who wanted to use encryption told it to Go Fuck Itself (something it needs to hear a lot more often).
I found it somewhat remarkable that the Patriot Act, which I refer to as the Police State Wet Dream Act of 2001 did not specifically outlaw encryption. But I suppose they thought their secret orders and secret courts would suffice to force their way into encrypted computers and devices.
And it did, until the revelations of Edward Snowden of the extent of Federal surveillance of electronic communication prompted companies like Apple and Google to include tough encryption on their smartphone OS’s, and make it easy for the unsophisticated lay person to turn it on.
Apple, to their credit, stuck to their guns and refused to backdoor their OS, despite the government’s attempt to force them into it. FedGov then saved face by claiming that someone else showed them how to hack San Bernardino islamic terrorist Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c in an attempt to discredit Apple.
Turns out, the Feds used a flaw in that particular phone (which is no longer being sold) that is useless against current models of iPhones. Oh, and as predicted, they did not actually break the encryption and that phone had nothing important on it.
Now enter the Den of Treason known as the United States Senate
On Thursday evening, the draft text of a bill called the “Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016,” authored by offices of Senators Diane Feinstein and Richard Burr, was published online by the Hill.1 It’s a nine-page piece of legislation that would require people to comply with any authorized court order for data—and if that data is “unintelligible,” the legislation would demand that it be rendered “intelligible.” In other words, the bill would make illegal the sort of user-controlled encryption that’s in every modern iPhone, in all billion devices that run Whatsapp’s messaging service, and in dozens of other tech products. “This basically outlaws end-to-end encryption,” says Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology. “It’s effectively the most anti-crypto bill of all anti-crypto bills.”
In other words, Congress is back to making law based on “Article XIII” of the Constitution, the Absolute Power Clause.
Which, of course, does not actually exist. But 200 years of abuse of power by Congress has pretty much made it exist.
The Senate plans to make your iPhone illegal. It intends to force Apple, Google, and any other manufacturer to make defective security products that have to be able to be broken by “Officer Barney”, your local High School dropout 400 pound donut swilling cloth sew on badge cop. Which means America’s business will have no secrets from Russian and Chinese hackers.
Here is the draft text of the bill. Read it. And tell your Senator that you will not vote for them nor support them with contributions if they support this legislation