Oppose the Burr-Feinstein Cryptography Bill

Posted at 1:00 pm on April 21, 2016 by Neil Stevens

“Never let a crisis go to waste,” is one of the operating principles of the big-government left. Well, the Islamic terrorist murders in San Bernardino were the latest crisis used by Barack Obama and his FBI head, James Comey.

Their goal is to turn the Fourth Amendment inside out, attack the ability of ordinary Americans to protect our data from prying eyes, and align cryptography in America back with the Clinton-era Clipper Chip ideas.

The goal is total government control over all data. That was what the Clipper Chip was about, and that’s what they want now. Key Escrow is the technical term for a way of giving the government a back door into all encrypted communications, and that’s what the Clipper Chip proposal of the Clinton administration would have imposed.

Well now, the fight with Apple is taking this old idea in a new direction. Instead of mandating a particular back door into your data, the new law proposed by Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein would leave that open, but make no mistake: the law demands that all cryptography in America be left intentionally insecure.

This is truly outrageous, too. The law is targeting firms that sell cryptography, insisting they add a backdoor:

A covered entity that receives a court order referred to in paragraph (1)(A) shall be responsible only for providing data in an intelligible format if such data has been made unintelligible by a feature, product, or service owned, controlled, created, or provided, by the covered entity or by a third party on behalf of the covered entity

That’s it. That’s the meat of the law. There’s an added passage that avoids defining specifically how, technically, this should be accomplished. That’s because they know it can only be done through backdoors or key escrow, aka Clipper Chip. They know it would look bad to require that though, so they disavow requiring it, even though they know that’s what is needed anyway. Cryptography done right makes the requirements of this law impossible, therefore this law bans cryptography done right.

This law turns the Fourth Amendment on its head. The Bill of Rights was meant to restrict the government’s ability to search us, but this bill turns the warrants provision of the Constitution into unlimited access to all of our data.

Reject this bill, Republicans. It grows government, impairs private sector innovation, and puts Americans at a disadvantage to the rest of the world.