White House won't publicly back legislation allowing judges to order decryption - report

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Despite recent comments by President Obama, the White House won't publicly support upcoming draft legislation that would let judges order companies like Apple to help decrypt their products, a report said on Thursday.




The legislation -- a bipartisan effort from Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein -- could be introduced as quickly as this week, Reuters noted. But while the White House has reviewed it and provided feedback, it will provide little if any public input, sources told the newswire agency.

The administration is split on the issue, the sources added, and its position may reflect a realization than an encryption bill would be controversial, and unlikely to make it far in a deadlocked Congress also facing impending elections.

The draft bill would reportedly grant judges the power to order companies to help the government, but in its current state it doesn't say how companies might be obligated, what penalties might be imposed, or even under what circumstances an order could be issued.

During March's SXSW festival in Austin, Tex., Obama appeared to support the idea of safeguarding private data, but also argued against "absolutist" stances, suggesting there are times when law enforcement agencies should have access. Perhaps most significantly, he cautioned against any "sloppy and rushed" efforts by Congress.

The ongoing encryption debate was sparked by Apple's refusal to circumvent the passcode retry limit on the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The Department of Justice ultimately backed down, saying another method had successfully extracted data, but the situation is still unresolved in many ways -- Apple, for instance, is looking to discover what that method was.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Thank you, White House. At least, we still have people in the White House with brain. Can't be sure what happens if Trump or any GOP becomes the next president. Well, they will probably fck us over on encryptions.
    edited April 2016 mwhitecalibaconstangjony0
  • Reply 2 of 22
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    fallenjt said:
    Thank you, White House. At least, we still have people in the White House with brain. Can't be sure what happens if Trump or any GOP becomes the next president. Well, they will probably fck us over on encryptions.
    not just GOP - Clinton is also anti-privacy. Sanders is the only candidate to vote against the Patriot act and to oppose domestic spying.
    calibaconstangoseamejony0
  • Reply 3 of 22
    jungmarkjungmark Posts: 6,679member
    Good call. Still don't think forcing a company to write code is constitutional.
    tallest skilbaconstangmike1
  • Reply 4 of 22
    brakkenbrakken Posts: 677member
    WH maybe wont act constitutionally. 
    Wtf?
    mwhite
  • Reply 5 of 22
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    I think Apple won this battle.

    They'll be back most likely and Apple should encrypt their devices so well that a backdoor is impossible.
  • Reply 6 of 22
    gunner1954gunner1954 Posts: 141member
    "The draft bill would reportedly grant judges the power to order companies to help the government…"

    Yet the draft bill doesn't declare to what limit. In other words, if said company does help, yet fails to perform due to its encryption being that good, does the company get fined for trying and failing? If so, why try? That also leaves the 'forced speech' question of constitutionality if the gov't/court should order code to be written. Would that also in Apple being required to write code to crack RSA encryption? If so, wouldn't that also crack every other device/method using RSA encryption, including the gov't's own super computers?

    Congress really better think this one through and read through the entire legislation, else wind up passing an unread bill with a huge amount of holes and unexpected consequences in it.
  • Reply 7 of 22
    stourquestourque Posts: 354member
    Cue up the anti Obama rhetoric.
  • Reply 8 of 22
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,782member
    Despite recent comments by President Obama, the White House won't publicly support upcoming draft legislation that would let judges order companies like Apple to help decrypt their products, a report said on Thursday.

    What does "won't publicly support" actually mean? Will he veto it if the bill is sent to his desk?
  • Reply 9 of 22
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 789member
    volcan said:
    Despite recent comments by President Obama, the White House won't publicly support upcoming draft legislation that would let judges order companies like Apple to help decrypt their products, a report said on Thursday.

    What does "won't publicly support" actually mean? Will he veto it if the bill is sent to his desk?
    By not "publicly supporting such a bill in the early stages it will also lose support from Congress thus derailing the bill. 
  • Reply 10 of 22
    mike1mike1 Posts: 1,869member
    jungmark said:
    Good call. Still don't think forcing a company to write code is constitutional.
    Imagine a court finding a reason for an author to write a book or a songwriter to write a song.
    stourque said:
    Cue up the anti Obama rhetoric.
    Not this time. Even a blind squirrel...
    designr
  • Reply 11 of 22
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,782member
    spice-boy said:
    volcan said:
    What does "won't publicly support" actually mean? Will he veto it if the bill is sent to his desk?
    By not "publicly supporting such a bill in the early stages it will also lose support from Congress thus derailing the bill. 
    Since the Republican controlled Congress has vowed to block any legislation supported by the President, if Obama wanted to derail the bill perhaps he should come out in support of it, thus ensuring that it would not get passed. By saying he is not supporting the legislation, is that just a clever way to actually getting it passed?
  • Reply 12 of 22
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,782member
    mike1 said:

    Imagine a court finding a reason for an author to write a book or a songwriter to write a song. 
    Those occupations are not security related. I don't think there are any apt analogies that can be made here. This is a unique case because there is a conflict of interest between national security and personal security.

    I think Tim Cook has the right stance on this. If they did write the code there would be no way to keep it safe. Once the code is written it has to be stored somewhere and you cannot trust anyone when the stakes are so high, even at Apple and especially not if the code is in the government's hands.
  • Reply 13 of 22
    mike1 said:
    jungmark said:
    Good call. Still don't think forcing a company to write code is constitutional.
    Imagine a court finding a reason for an author to write a book or a songwriter to write a song. Not this time. Even a blind squirrel...
    It already happened for a photographer. See Elane Photography v. Willock.
    designr
  • Reply 14 of 22
    rhoninrhonin Posts: 55member
    I see it as the WH hedging their bets.  Especially when over 60% of the commercially available encryption option are non-USA.   Then add in the ad hoc ones that many large criminal enterprises and nation states utilize.  Then add hackers; white, grey, and black.

    Lame-Duck president and staff riding the fence.  Not unexpected.
  • Reply 15 of 22
    rhoninrhonin Posts: 55member

    volcan said:
    mike1 said:

    Imagine a court finding a reason for an author to write a book or a songwriter to write a song. 
    Those occupations are not security related. I don't think there are any apt analogies that can be made here. This is a unique case because there is a conflict of interest between national security and personal security.

    I think Tim Cook has the right stance on this. If they did write the code there would be no way to keep it safe. Once the code is written it has to be stored somewhere and you cannot trust anyone when the stakes are so high, even at Apple and especially not if the code is in the government's hands.
    Code writing is protected by the 1st Amendment.  Not counting the attempted forced conscription of Apple to write it.  That's another couple of Amendments.
  • Reply 16 of 22
    rhonin said:

    volcan said:
    Those occupations are not security related. I don't think there are any apt analogies that can be made here. This is a unique case because there is a conflict of interest between national security and personal security.

    I think Tim Cook has the right stance on this. If they did write the code there would be no way to keep it safe. Once the code is written it has to be stored somewhere and you cannot trust anyone when the stakes are so high, even at Apple and especially not if the code is in the government's hands.
    Code writing is protected by the 1st Amendment.  Not counting the attempted forced conscription of Apple to write it.  That's another couple of Amendments.
    So was writing with light, and those other Amendments were also thrown out in a judicial juggernaut. For 200+ years we've agreed to support each other's right to speak regardless of someone's dislike or disapproval. However divided we are on an issue we should be united in sustaining the First Amendment!
  • Reply 17 of 22
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 789member
    volcan said:
    spice-boy said:
    By not "publicly supporting such a bill in the early stages it will also lose support from Congress thus derailing the bill. 
    Since the Republican controlled Congress has vowed to block any legislation supported by the President, if Obama wanted to derail the bill perhaps he should come out in support of it, thus ensuring that it would not get passed. By saying he is not supporting the legislation, is that just a clever way to actually getting it passed?
    He is telling Congress which is filled with lots of pols which take "vows "to only do the opposite of what the Pres wants instead of governing for the people that elected them.... a veto threat tells them they are wasting their time putting a bill on his desk. 
  • Reply 18 of 22
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,994member
    fallenjt said:
    Thank you, White House. At least, we still have people in the White House with brain. Can't be sure what happens if Trump or any GOP becomes the next president. Well, they will probably fck us over on encryptions.
    not just GOP - Clinton is also anti-privacy. Sanders is the only candidate to vote against the Patriot act and to oppose domestic spying.
    Yes, regrettably Rand Paul fell out of the running early. But there's also Gary Johnson on the Libertarian ticket (although it's very likely the US will never elect a Libertarian president, so it would be a protest vote).
  • Reply 19 of 22
    gunner1954gunner1954 Posts: 141member
    fallenjt said:
    Thank you, White House. At least, we still have people in the White House with brain. Can't be sure what happens if Trump or any GOP becomes the next president. Well, they will probably fck us over on encryptions.
    Just because the White House won't PUBLICLY support the bill, doesn't mean the White House isn't giving it PRIVATE support (usually through lackeys, like Feinstein) nor does it mean Pres Obama won't VETO the measure when it gets to his desk. All depends whether the firestorm of criticism has died down by then.
    designr
  • Reply 20 of 22
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    ...thrown out in a judicial juggernaut.
    Judicial activism is not legally binding.
    However divided we are on an issue we should be united in sustaining the First Amendment!
    It’s not a matter of uniting. The First Amendment (and Second, and several others) cannot be repealed. It’s not a matter of law that they encompass. The government could vote 435:0, 100:0, 1:0, and 9:0 in favor of repealing the First Amendment and it would not be legal for them to do. To do so would be to sign their own suicide notes.
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