Congress tells FBI “zero chance” of law requiring decryption of smartphones

Congress tells FBI “zero chance” of law requiring decryption of smartphones
Congress may be experiencing what some would argue the longest period of record-low approval ratings in the history of the United States, but that does not mean the elected Representatives and Senators are not at least somewhat sensitive to the sentiment.

Last week, FBI director, James Comey spoke at the Brookings Institution bemoaning the burden smartphone encryption would put on law enforcement, stating that it “threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place.”

However, it has been shown that at least in iOS, the data on a smartphone, even if encrypted, is not beyond law enforcement’s reach. These new features, while good for marketing, basically wash the hands of a company like Apple, as it says it does not have the ability to break through such encryption.  Last year, a court struck down the FBI's use of "National Security Letters" (NSLs), which are used to gather discrete customer data,  but the ruling has been stayed pending appeal.

Director Comey states that making it harder to access this data will come at a cost, and if Apple and Google do not do something, then it may fall on Congress to force the issue. Few people are even renting that argument, let alone buying it, and it appears Congress is not going to be backing the director’s play either.

One of the more powerful figures in the House of Representatives, republican Darrell Issa, stated in no uncertain terms to the director in a couple tweets, “To FBI Director Comey and the Admin on criticisms of legitimate business using encryption: you reap what you sow. The FBI and Justice Department must be more accountable – tough sell for them to now ask the American people for more surveillance power.”

One of Rep. Issa’s democrat counterparts, Rep. Zoe Lofgren, said that Director Comey’s proposal would have “zero chance” of passing. In the other chamber of Congress, Senator Ron Wyden, stated that he did not think any more than “a handful” of lawmakers would get behind such legislation.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation chimed in as well, saying that the 1990s era Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act specifically states that companies “shall not be responsible for decrypting, or ensuring the government’s ability to decrypt [communication].” This basically assures that no private company can be forced to act as an agent of law enforcement.

source: Motherboard



1. Jobayer

Posts: 167; Member since: Feb 22, 2013

You reap what you sow. He took the words right out of my mouth .

11. TheMan

Posts: 494; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

"No" means no -- until the next terrorist attack or the lobbyists descend on Washington.

15. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Which is the reason for Comey doing the whining tour - he knows his push for back-doors is radioactive and no one will touch it.

2. Tritinum

Posts: 471; Member since: May 06, 2014


3. DeusExCellula

Posts: 1390; Member since: Oct 05, 2014

wrecked come at me FBI

4. NYDiver22

Posts: 7; Member since: Aug 09, 2013

Not to get controversial so early in the morning but why is it that the Federal Government is so passionate about this limit of privacy??? "WE" decide our fate and "WE" decide the pros and cons of how much privacy should be limited! You serve us! It's not the other way around! The desperation on the part of the FBI to limit privacy to zero is troubling if a free society has spoken!

5. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3155; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

It's not about controversy. Prior to 9/11 this would not have been an issue. Americans foolishly let Bush 43 remove their freedoms via the Patriot Act. Remember? "You're either with us, or against us".

6. Augustine

Posts: 1043; Member since: Sep 28, 2013

Hoover's groupies are the ones who have led this once great country to to a very dark place.

7. VZWuser76

Posts: 4974; Member since: Mar 04, 2010

Personally I think this has less to do with protecting our privacy, and more about Congress protecting their privacy.

8. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

I love how they sidestep the fact that better security is needed for regular folks as protection against... ACTUAL CRIMINALS! What's that? You got your identity stolen because the FBI wanted unfettered access to your cat pictures? Too bad.

9. Muayyad

Posts: 240; Member since: Oct 05, 2012

Not if they consider all are criminals.

10. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

That's true. I can't say I can think of anybody who hasn't jaywalked. Jaywalking has been tied to Al Queso and various international gangs.

12. xq10xa

Posts: 810; Member since: Dec 07, 2010

And by Zero Chance we mean just a couple of more years.

13. xtroid2k

Posts: 601; Member since: Jan 11, 2010

There is no privacy. Anybody that beleives there is; is ignorant. There are channels and back doors established that we don't even know about. If you have any tie to the internet your privacy is gone. The whole privacy debacle is comicle to me because people actually walk around thinking they have privacy. Its only now these issues are coming up because a nay sayer spilled the beans about the us government. We all know who that is. While people are concerned about the government; they should be more attentive to more relevent situations like "WORK" I am the IT manager and systems admin where I work. I have the ability to remotely track everyone's activity all the way down to key strokes. I feel that there were some honest people who had access to some of the capabilities but don't always use them. Like I don't track activity unless obsolutly necessary; plus ethics does come into play. People get over it. Your privacy ended with the ARPA-NET.

16. EclipseGSX

Posts: 1777; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

You sir deserve a cookie. Well said, I am also in IT and feel the same way about privacy.

17. D.Luis

Posts: 13; Member since: Sep 18, 2014

Just right at the point. Simple as taking 1 second to visualize this days you allways have a camera pointing at you. Just a simple example

14. StanleyG88

Posts: 240; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

Need to LOCK DOWN ALL private communication with about 65000 bit encryption or more. If the Feds can break it, so can the criminals. We have already seen the criminals are one step ahead of the FBI anyway.

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