Key lawmakers in both chambers on Monday proposed some of the first bills to address the use of encrypted communications in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino.
The proposals from Senate Democrats and House Republicans wouldn’t mandate that the government have “backdoor” access to communications. Instead, the lawmakers are just proposing that the government and the tech industry work together to study the issue.
But even that tentative first step has privacy advocates nervous. “From my perspective, the idea is worrying,” said Chris Calabrese, the vice president for policy at the Center for Democracy and Technology, a digital-rights group. “Encryption is so foundational to the security of the Internet. Proposals to study backdoors seem like they will inevitably lead to some bad technical compromises.”
In a speech Monday, House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican, said he plans to introduce legislation to create a “national commission on security and technology” that would issue recommendations to “protect privacy and public safety.” He said the commission would include members from law enforcement, as well as civil-liberties advocates, academics, and representatives from technology companies.
Senate Democratic leaders announced their own proposals Monday to fight ISIS, including legislation to direct the National Academy of Sciences and intelligence agencies to work with the private sector to “identify how encryption technology is used and how to make sure that our national security needs and technology policies are not working at cross-purposes.”
The bills follow a speech on terrorism Sunday…