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You are here: MacNN Forums > News > Mac News > Burr-Feinstein encryption bill to be filibustered, senator vows

Burr-Feinstein encryption bill to be filibustered, senator vows
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Apr 15, 2016, 12:04 AM
A new bill from Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) that was written after FBI briefings on encryption and the agency's stated desire to be able to unlock smartphones at will, and which has been widely criticized in its current form will get a filibuster if should reach the floor of the Senate, one senator has vowed. The bill, said Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) would "effectively outlaw tech that Americans use to protect themselves," and would leave citizens "more vulnerable" if it were to pass. The White House has also indicated it will not support the bill in its present form, and also threatened a veto to another legislative proposal that would gut the Federal Communications Commission's ability to regulate rates charged by Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

The Senate bill, dubiously dubbed the "Compliance with Court Orders of 2016," orders companies to decrypt data on smartphones and other devices and present it to courts in an "intelligible" manner when a lawful warrant for the data is issued. The proposed legislative does not specify how this is to be done, leaving the only available interpretation being that encryption of any sort cannot be used without a known decryption key, nor can companies make smartphones that can only be opened by the owner. Security experts have lambasted the proposal as "ludicrous" and "dangerous," with one critic saying flatly that the bill is the most "technically illiterate tech policy proposal of the 21st century."

Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)

"For the first time in America, companies that want to protect their customers with stronger security will not have that choice," said Wyden about the bill last week. "They will be required by federal law per this statute to decide how to weaken their products to make Americans less safe." In a more recent statement threatening a filibuster, Wyden said that "this flawed bill would leave Americans more vulnerable to stalkers, identity thieves, foreign hackers and criminals, and yet it will not make us safer from terrorists or other threats." The senator is unlikely to have to follow through on the threat anytime soon, as the bill is extremely unlikely to be brought up for a vote before the elections in November, and the White House has indicated it will not support the measure.

The House proposal to bar the FCC from being able to regulate or exercise any authority over rates charged by ISPs -- HR 2666, known as the "No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act," and written by Representative Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) -- has already been shot down by the White House, with the administration saying President Obama would veto it because the bill would "undermine key provisions in the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Open Internet order, and harm the Commission's ability to protect consumers while facilitating innovation and economic growth."

The bill was clearly written in consultation with the larger ISPs, and argues that the commission's net neutrality rules -- which require that all Internet sites large or small are delivered at the same speed and without preferential treatment in exchange for payments -- amounts to rate regulation, which FCC Chain Tom Wheeler has previously said the commission would not be heavily involved in. The rules do, however, prevent excessive rate hikes without review from the agency. Opponents of the bill have said that if passed into law, it would reverse the net neutrality and consumer protections of the rules by stripping the FCC of the power to enforce compliance.

"The FCC's rules -- issued after a lengthy rulemaking process that garnered an unprecedented amount of public input, including comments from four million Americans -- recognize that broadband service is of the same importance, and must carry the same obligations, as so many of the other vital services do," the Obama administration said in a statement. "These carefully-designed rules have already been implemented in large part, with little or no adverse impact on the telecommunications companies making important investments in our economy." If presented with this bill or a similar measure, the President's staff would "recommend that he veto" the legislation.
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Apr 15, 2016, 01:53 AM
Go Senator!
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Apr 15, 2016, 06:40 PM
I'm not from Oregon, and I've never heard of the guy, but I like him already. Glad *somebody* is taking a stand. A bit ironic that one of the senators from CA, which probably has a higher percentage of people who get how technically awful an idea this bill is than any other state, wrote the monstrosity, and the first guy to speak out against it is from Oregon.

Also: "No Rate Regulation of Broadband". How could something with that name *possibly* go wrong? I guess I should be impressed that the telecom giants aren't even trying to hide their intentions any more--it's not called the "Protect Broadband Users From Government Interference Act" or something.

They might as well have called it the "Telecom Giants Want More Money Act".
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Apr 16, 2016, 01:05 PM
Makosuke wrote: Also: "No Rate Regulation of Broadband". How could something with that name *possibly* go wrong?

I understand what you're saying but it cuts both ways.

- Surely you agree high-bandwidth users like youtube and netflix should be paying more for their use of bandwidth than websites that use 1.5TB bandwidth a month.

- Surely you agree high-volume bandwidth users shouldn't get such favorable rates per GB that their economies of scale mean they end up paying less overall (total) than companies that use less.

- Despite the above, I believe everything in business should be negotiable. If I can convince AWS to give my business free internet at no cost for a year, that should be possible.

I am a proponent of the theory of net neutrality, but I'm afraid in practice this should be called the "lower internet costs for Netflix, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Youtube and higher internet costs for their customers" bill.
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