“Breathtaking” Draft Bill Threatens Internet Privacy.

Apple, Inc., and the FBI recently locked horns regarding the encryption of iPhones related to the San Bernardino terrorists.[1]  It seems that the Justice Department is looking for a back door that doesn’t require taking on one of the world’s most powerful companies. Senator’s Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein are working on a draft bill that “would effectively derail the growing use of ‘end-to-end’ encryption, which is designed to be so strong that only users have the ability to get into their smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices…[i]t would require everyone who writes software to provide the government with a backdoor.”[2] In other words, it appears that Senators Burr and Feinstein are attempting to ensure that the Department of Justice be granted access to user's devices, and their data, by court order. Take that Apple.

FBI director James Comey believes that this is a necessity because encryption of this nature is someday “going to figure in a major tragedy in this country.”[3] Benjamin Franklin once said that “those who give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”[4]

Which ideology is right?

At this point it is hard to say. There is no actual bill to review and the verbiage for such an important issue will be vitally important.   It is safe to say that Mr. Franklin, dead since 1790, couldn’t have imagined a future with smart phones, the internet, jet airliners, or the ability to fly the latter into buildings to terrorize. On the other hand, some polls show that 57% of Americans say that it is “unacceptable for the US government to monitor the communications of US citizens.”[5] The evolution of this bill will be worth monitoring for all of those who value their privacy, and for all of those who balance those concerns against security.  In this post Patriot Act age, color me skeptical that this will end as a victory for privacy enthusiasts.


--By Derek A. Jordan, Esq., Barnes Law

Derek A. Jordan is an associate attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in Tennessee.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.



[1] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/04/08/justice-moving-forward-separate-apple-case/82788824/

[2] http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/04/08/proposed-senate-bill-would-require-tech-companies-break-encryption/82798862/

[3] Ibid.

[4] Or, maybe not. See: http://www.npr.org/2015/03/02/390245038/ben-franklins-famous-liberty-safety-quote-lost-its-context-in-21st-century

[5] https://epic.org/privacy/survey/