For days now, advocates of encryption have been indulging in deep revelry for the ultimate demise of the Burr/Feinstein legislation in the State of California that sought to enforce a mandatory decryption for mobile devices as deemed necessary by law enforcement authorities such as the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Majority of legislators, and bipartisan at that, have moved to kill Assembly Bill 1681. However, those that called for the abolition of the bill – though at the moment they can take a deep breath – remain apprehensive that a similar bill seeking to defeat encryption will come out sooner or later.
That the state government of California will continue to pursue measures intended to break the security of the personal data of citizens and force technology companies to do the job for the government. In other words, the anti-encryption mission of some legislators isn’t dead yet, at least according to Electronic Frontier Foundation.
That is particularly so because the debate over limiting encryption on communications is not over at this time. The EFF calls for privacy advocates to be vigilant because the Foundation believes some government officials are still working hard to spy on the data of the people who use the Internet and mobile devices on a regular basis.
As a matter of fact, the now defunct Burr/Feinstein legislation is only one of the many proposed bills that the government has thrown in the path of encryption all in an attempt to gain access to the personal information and private communication of the citizens as part of what they call as public safety. The encryption debate drew the limelight after the San Bernardino shooting, where the iPhone used by the shooter Syed Farook was believed to contain pieces of evidence that would help the FBI solve the case.
Called the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016, the Burr/Feinstein bill sought to require developers of mobile operating systems and other tech companies to comply with the requests of law enforcers for assistance in disabling the very encryption they developed themselves. Of course, that would have left a backdoor in every smartphone manufactured had the bill passed the Congress.
Civil liberty groups and privacy advocates refuse to rest on their laurels at the moment because there will still be forms of legislation in the future that would try to defeat encryption. The challenge is now one less roadblock ahead, and privacy advocates remain upbeat their fight against government measures versus encryption would eventually succeed, given existing bills such as the Secure Data Act and the Encryption Act of 2016 are still under consideration.