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On December 10, 2019, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a full committee hearing, entitled, “Encryption and Lawful Access: Evaluating Benefits and Risks to Public Safety and Privacy”. The troubling outcome of the hearing is that most U.S. Senators agree that privacy should take a backseat to weakening encryption when it comes to criminal cases.
Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (Republican) and Senate ranking member Diane Feinstein (Democrat) both believe that encryption has no place in American law when an inquiry of criminality is involved. Feinstein stated: “We’ve seen criminals increasingly using technology, including encryption, in an effort to evade prosecution. We cannot let that happen.” Within the next year, the likelihood of legislation being introduced in an effort to weaken encryption in the United States is almost certain. This unanimous conclusion is, to say the least, unprecedented considering that the two major parties of this country, Republicans and Democrats, agree on very little. The fact that both parties appear to support the legislation to weaken encryption should be of crucial concern to residents of the United States.
In 2016, Senator Feinstein proposed legislation for a device back door mandate that died in committee. Unfortunately, there has been a whirl of changes during the last four years culminating in a major backlash against the large tech companies. Google and Facebook have become the poster children for the ongoing tech lash, most of which has been largely justified. However, the panic surrounding these events has also opened the door to discussing errant proposals concerning encryption. Citizens of the U.S. and the world are now looking at an environment where questionable technology policies and legislation can be easily passed without being properly vetted.
Government-mandated backdoors in devices have been called by many security experts a fool’s errand. They worry that the proposed legislation will ultimately shift the balance of power to bad actors who play with stronger encryption that is outside of the jurisdiction of the United States. Representatives from Facebook and Apple, who attended and testified at the hearing, were told by Senator Graham: “You’re going to find a way to do this or we’re going to do it for you.” Bruce Schneier, a board member of the EFF, fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, and considered one of the thought leaders on technology, public policy, and encryption stated: “In an age of hacking crimes, ransomware, data breaches, and cyber espionage and conflict between nations, we literally cannot afford not to have strong encryption.”
With the current political climate, it is evident that individual rights and interests must be taken into one’s own hands. Having a reliable VPN when accessing the web will allow you to have control over your own privacy. Protect yourself and always use PrivadoVPN when you go online.
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