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US government passes Secure Data Act; makes backdoor demands illegal

Apple and the US Government agencies are constantly fighting over the backdoor access to the iPhones. One of the famous cases is when Apple went against FBI who demanded a compromised version of the iOS. They wanted to go through the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Secure Data Act aims at forbidding Federal agencies from mandating the deployment of vulnerabilities in data security technologies.

“No court may issue an order to compel a manufacturer, developer, or seller of covered products to design or alter the security functions in its product or service to allow the surveillance of any user of such product or service, or to allow the physical search of such product, by an agency.”

Wiretaps would still be permitted under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. This, however, doesn’t mean the government can demand any weakening of end-to-end encrypted messaging services.

Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Poe (R-TX), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), Ted Lieu (D-CA), and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are three Democrat and Republican representatives that have introduced the bill.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is in favour of the bill. They noted that the bill delivers the message that it is not possible to create a weakness to be used by the government which would go undiscovered and used by criminals.

“This welcome piece of legislation reflects much of what the community of encryption researchers, scientists, developers, and advocates have explained for decades—there is no such thing as a secure backdoor. Just last week, EFF convened a panel of true experts on Capitol Hill to explain why government-mandated backdoors face insurmountable technical challenges and will weaken computer security for all. Given that the DOJ and FBI continue to rely on flawed theoretical approaches to key escrow in pushing for “responsible encryption,” we’re glad to see some Congress members are listening to the experts and taking this important step to protect anyone who uses an encrypted device or service.”

According to DOJ, the FBI was misleading the Congress by claiming that it had exhausted all attempts to access the iPhone in the San Bernardino case.

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