House Votes To Block Backdoor Searches And To Block Backdooring Encryption
from the let's-do-this-once-again dept
Last night, we noted that an amendment from Reps. Thomas Massie and Zoe Lofgren was on the docket that had two provisions to stop two different kinds of surveillance: the first, taking away funding from “backdoor searches” which are a hugely problematic “loophole” that the NSA uses to do warrantless surveillance of Americans. In many ways, this is much worse than the bulk collection programs that were just hindered by the USA Freedom Act. The second part of the amendment was barring funds from being used to mandate “backdoors” into technology products — another hugely important move. Thankfully, the amendment passed by a wide margin earlier today: 255 – to 174.
While this is great news, I’m somewhat surprised and disappointed that the margin of victory here was lower than a nearly identical amendment last year (which was approved 293 to 123. It’s possible that some of last year’s votes were in protest to the falling apart of the USA Freedom Act a year ago — whereas since it passed this year, some felt it was okay to shift their vote here. Still, in many ways, this has the potential to be a much bigger deal and much more important than the USA Freedom Act, because those backdoor searches are a huge problem.
Of course, it’s still a long way from making it into law. As we saw last year, this amendment was quietly dropped later in the year, as part of the giant “CRomnibus bill” that the government needed to pass. Still, we can hope that Congress finally recognizes how important this is.