Three Republican senators presented a bill to end „warrant-proof“ encryption on 23 June. This invokes national security as a pretext to require device manufacturers and service providers to assist law enforcement by providing access to encrypted data.
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The Encrypted Data Access Act is chaired by Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tom Cotton (R-AR) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). According to GovTrack, all three senators score highly on the conservative scale, with Corona Millionaire receiving a perfect 100.
Graham is also one of the presiding senators of the EARN IT Act, which many privacy advocates strongly criticized for what they perceived as an intrusion on personal freedoms, under the guise of protecting children from sexual abuse.
It is not clear why Graham and his colleagues felt the need to propose a bill that, on top of that, seems to have the same objectives as the EARN IT Act: to strip people of the right to use technology that preserves privacy, while forcing technology companies to be even more receptive to the whims of the state. Perhaps the idea is that at least one of the cards the bill plays, national security and child welfare, will do the job.
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Putting an end to „warrant-proof“ encryption
The press release says the proposed legislation would „end warrantless encryption on devices, platforms and systems“, a highly contentious debate for years. It also emphasizes that companies should cooperate with authorities only after a court order is issued:
„The bill would require service providers and device manufacturers to provide assistance to law enforcement when access to encrypted devices or data is required, but only after a court issues a warrant for arrest, based on the probable cause of a crime, authorizing law enforcement to search and seize the data.
If this bill is ever passed, the crypto-currency industry could be especially affected, the cryptographic algorithms that are at the core of Bitcoin (BTC) and other crypto-currencies. On the other hand, the decentralized nature of many projects in this space may make the industry better prepared.