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Report: Senate Plans Bill To Criminalize Decryption Refusal

February 18, 2016 - Written By John Anon

Over the past few months, the debate surrounding encryption on smartphones has trickled along. However, this past week has seen a spark fully ignite the debate. The spark came when on Tuesday, Apple were ordered by a federal court to help in assisting the FBI gain access to a particular iPhone. One belonging to one of those involved in the San Bernardino shootings. The spark was further ignited when the following day Apple released a statement making the request public, as well as making their denial to help public too.

As the debate cuts to the very core of privacy for smartphone owners, it was understandable that many tech companies and individuals would come out in support of Apple and they did, including Google. Support which was unlikely to bode well with the powers that be and those looking to Apple to help with the San Bernadino case. And this seems to be exactly what is now happening as a report out of the Wall Street Journal today states that a new proposal is being put together which would make it a crime for companies to not comply with court orders on assisting entry to encrypted smartphones or accessing encrypted content.

According to the details which are said to have come from “four people familiar with the matter“, the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Richard Burr (R-North Carolina), is currently in the process of looking as to how they can modify the’ Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act’ to include the need for companies to comply with court orders. However, it would seem the legislation is far from being realized with the sources stating that Mr Burr has yet to finalize the plans, or even how companies would be penalized for breaking the said law. Not to mention that it is currently unclear as to how much support such a proposal or bill will receive from other lawmakers. While this is still reported to be at a very early stage in development, it does further highlight that the debate on smartphone encryption is one which is unlikely to subside anytime soon.