Lindsey Graham’s stupid bill would kill Apple privacy

What Sens. Graham, Tom Cotton and Marsha Blackburn said to justify legislation that would end the use of “warrant-poof” encryption.

From The U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary:

Graham: Terrorists and criminals routinely use technology, whether smartphones, apps, or other means, to coordinate and communicate their daily activities. In recent history, we have experienced numerous terrorism cases and serious criminal activity where vital information could not be accessed, even after a court order was issued. Unfortunately, tech companies have refused to honor these court orders and assist law enforcement in their investigations. My position is clear: After law enforcement obtains the necessary court authorizations, they should be able to retrieve information to assist in their investigations. Our legislation respects and protects the privacy rights of law-abiding Americans. It also puts the terrorists and criminals on notice that they will no longer be able to hide behind technology to cover their tracks.

Cotton: Tech companies’ increasing reliance on encryption has turned their platforms into a new, lawless playground of criminal activity. Criminals from child predators to terrorists are taking full advantage. This bill will ensure law enforcement can access encrypted material with a warrant based on probable cause and help put an end to the Wild West of crime on the Internet.

Blackburn: User privacy and public safety can and should work in tandem. What we have learned is that in the absence of a lawful warrant application process, terrorists, drug traffickers and child predators will exploit encrypted communications to run their operations.

My take: Shameless political posturing built on a premise that is provably, mathematically false. To quote Tim Cook:

There is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys.

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  1. David Emery said:
    If they could do math, they probably wouldn’t be politicians. (And mathematical illiteracy is not unique to Republicans…) It is frustrating how both law enforcement and politicians disbelieve the concept that “Apple does not have keys”.

    I can’t see this bill making it through the House.

    June 24, 2020
  2. Gary Morton said:
    Interesting, if China were to enact such a law, both sides of the aisle and the press would be staunchly against it. The politicians would seek cameras to revile against the human rights abusing Chinese leadership. The press would write clickbait headlines on how Apple may have to bow to the continued lack of respect for basic privacy rights in China. These politicians and news people would be right.

    June 24, 2020
  3. Steven Philips said:
    Hate to be snarky, (not really!) but IF something like this gets passed I hope one of the “collectives” immediately hacks all the politician’s phones.
    (You know, just to check for criminal activity – or confirm criminal stupidity.)

    June 24, 2020
  4. Fred Stein said:

    1) Any serious terrorist or criminal can access the dark web and get encryption tools. Chapo’s tunnels required far more effort.

    2) There’s no boundary. FBI but not CIA? Why not local law enforcement who likely don’t have tight security? Why not China, Russia, or other countries that murder dissenters, promiscuous or gay people, etc? Why not other devices like smart cameras, which may share OSes with industrial, power, and transit systems?

    June 24, 2020
  5. Fred Stein said:
    What scares me most?

    Maybe they’re not stupid. They’re demagogues who don’t care about the consequences.

    June 24, 2020
    • Bart Yee said:
      IMO, they don’t care about what happens to you and me, especially about what’s on my phone. But if they were ever the subject of investigations, you can bet that every phone they or their staff or family own, use, or operate would be somehow protected against probable cause warrants, plus they would never willingly give up their passcodes. It isn’t hard to guess just how much potential incriminating info is on their own devices.

      June 24, 2020
  6. Rodney Avilla said:
    I am not so sure this is such a black and white situation. Like Cook, I believe privacy is a fundamental human right. But like all other rights, none are absolute. I don’t believe Cook would argue that we should abandon search warrants. A criminal cannot be made to testify against himself, but he cannot hide evidence in his house beyond a search warrant.
    Also I do not think it is an issue of ‘backdoor keys’. I am sorry, but politicians and law enforcement are not as dumb as we like to make out, although they do make easy targets. I believe Tim Cook has stated with much clarity, and rightly so, that “There is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys”. I believe what they are asking is that all tech companies not create hiding places beyond warrants. Personally I tend to see the phone as an extension of the mind, and off-limits since we cannot be made to testify against ourselves. But the phone is also a computer, with all the capabilities that come with it.
    For example- let’s say Apple is a box making company in the 1920’s. And they make a box that no one can get into. So the mafia hides all their evidence in these boxes. Police ask why do you do that? Tim Cook’s grandfather says, “we believe privacy is a fundamental right”. I believe in privacy and in law and order. I wish there was an obvious and right answer.

    June 24, 2020

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