Burr-Feinstein Anti-Encryption Bill Has No Support, Won't Be Moving Forward Anytime Soon

from the but-a-corpse-can-always-be-exhumed-and-'Weekend-at-Bernied'-back-into-ac dept

Some good news has arrived: the Feinstein-Burr anti-encryption bill is now little more than a cooling corpse in the legislative mortuary.

Draft legislation that Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, the Republican and Democratic leaders of the Intelligence Committee, had circulated weeks ago likely will not be introduced this year and, even if it were, would stand no chance of advancing, the sources said.

Key among the problems was the lack of White House support for legislation in spite of a high-profile court showdown between the Justice Department and Apple Inc over the suspect iPhone, according to Congressional and Obama Administration officials and outside observers.

But, as Miracle Max pointed out, "mostly dead" is still "slightly alive." There are caveats hidden in Reuters' eulogy. Taking the bill out of the running for "this year" doesn't necessarily mean Burr/Feinstein won't take it out of cold storage after the regime change. It also doesn't rule out revived interest in backdooring encryption should an exploitable tragedy occur in the coming months. Never bet against the House/Senate. Bad ideas -- along with ECPA/FOIA reform attempts -- are perennial, but only the former draw strength from the deaths of US citizens. And you can never count out the undying support of law enforcement agencies, which have quite a bit of pull in national and state legislatures.

But even the usual supporters of government surveillance had their problems with the anti-encryption effort. Senator Lindsey Graham backed away hurriedly once he became aware of what was actually at stake.

“I was all with you until I actually started getting briefed by the people in the Intel Community,” Graham told Attorney General Loretta Lynch during an oversight hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee. “I will say that I’m a person that’s been moved by the arguments about the precedent we set and the damage we might be doing to our own national security.”

This is what happens when you actually converse with the "smart people" at tech companies. This explains why FBI Director James Comey would rather talk about "smart people," rather than to them. (Shorter Comey: "Nerd harder, nerds.") Nothing chills anti-encryption fervor more than the cold water of reality. Comey would rather be guided by faith and his belief in his own "rightness" than take the chance of being informed about how wrong he actually is.

Feinstein and Burr have a lot of pull and are in the intelligence community's inner circle. But if they can't get this done -- even in the wake of a mass shooting that dovetailed into a legal battle over iPhone access -- it's unlikely they'll be able to round up the support they need until after a new president is in place. And even that's no guarantee. But for now, the bill is going nowhere, and that's something.

Filed Under: dianne feinstein, encryption, going dark, richard burr


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  1. identicon
    Wendy Cockcroft, 1 Jun 2016 @ 6:00am

    Re: Re:

    Ermmmm.... wrong. So much wrong.

    Left-wingers are all about public ownership and state control of the means of production whereas right-wingers are all about laissez-faire and milking the public (especially workers) like cows.

    This country has moved so far left, we can have someone a outright Socialist have almost a chance to be the Democrat pick with Bernie Sanders.

    That's what happens when people realise that their country is being run in the interests of corporations who have no loyalty towards and pay little in the way of tax, i.e. it's the result of right wing policy. People generally prefer to have their country run in their own interests. You can only ask them to "take one for the team" so often. Sooner or later they begin to ask what's in it for them if they do.

    With all the free stuff he wants to give out, those that have to pay taxes, the mostly the middle class will end up seeing a 80% tax rate.

    Taxes are already so low on the people who actually have all the money that there's not enough to run the country with, hence the national debt. That the tax burden falls on middle income earners is due to the fact that we can't afford to stash our cash in offshore accounts like the very rich can. Assume Bernie does get in: he's unlikely to be able to fully implement his agenda as there's only so much you can achieve via executive order. Presidents can't rule by decree, whatever the hysterical conspiracy theorists would have us believe.

    You have all these left wing Collages dumping out kids that actually want to donate money to Terrorists groups to kill people in Israel. Couldn't be any more clear to these kids!!! it's really sickening what's happening in the schools these days.

    Citation? I prefer to complain about the cult of political protectionism that is making its mark on universities, creating "safe spaces" and "free speech zones" on the grounds that someone might be offended by something. In a world where opinion is treated as fact, whatever did we think was going to happen — increased common sense?!

    Your post is a case in point: low in facts and high in histrionics. The fact is, as everyone who actually knows about politics can tell you, political discourse in Western nations has lurched sharply to the right. If you can't accept that, check out the prison population and tell me what sort of a person you're most likely to find in there. Rule of thumb: where policy is centred on gaining and maintaining power for the wealthiest few, it's a right wing system.

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