Senator McCain Promises To Introduce Legislation To Backdoor Encryption, Make Everyone Less Safe

from the bad-ideas dept

Two months ago, the Obama administration came to the conclusion that mandating backdoors to encryption through legislation was a non-starter. They seemed to recognize that it was mostly a bad idea and (more importantly) that Congress would not approve such legislation. Almost immediately, we noted that intelligence officials (almost gleefully) noted that they really just needed to wait for the next terrorist attack to restart the campaign. Here was Robert Litt, the top lawyer in the intelligence community:
Although “the legislative environment is very hostile today,” the intelligence community’s top lawyer, Robert S. Litt, said to colleagues in an August e-mail, which was obtained by The Post, “it could turn in the event of a terrorist attack or criminal event where strong encryption can be shown to have hindered law enforcement.”

There is value, he said, in “keeping our options open for such a situation.”
Given all that, it was disappointing that the Obama administration then took the cowardly way out, and refused to take an official public stance against backdooring encryption.

Either way, with the attacks in Paris last week, it almost seems like the anti-encryption crowd was somewhat gleeful in their response. Why, here was the exact terrorist attack they needed to push their agenda.

And, of course, the idea of mandated backdoors is back on the table, with Senator John McCain announcing plans to introduce just such legislation:
“In the Senate Armed Services we're going to have hearings on it and we're going to have legislation,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who chairs the committee, told reporters Tuesday, calling the status quo “unacceptable.”
Of course, that legislation was ready to go, sitting in a top drawer just waiting for this kind of situation. And now we have to waste all sorts of time responding to this idiocy even though just months ago we went through this whole debate all over again, during which it was pretty clear that backdooring encryption makes us all much less safe. It puts everyone at greater risk, not less.

So the question remains: why do officials and politicians like Senator McCain want to undermine our safety and security? And, even more bizarrely, how is this the same John McCain who was on the other side during the last crypto wars?

Filed Under: backdoors, encryption, going dark, john mccain

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Nov 2015 @ 9:13am

    What we should be talking about is why the Orwellian civil liberties trashing programs we already have in place didn't stop the attack AGAIN.

    Meanwhile we will just go ahead and make stronger crypto than ever. Choke on that Mccain

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