The D.A. of New York Country is lobbying members of Congress to convince them to back legislation that will force companies like Google and Apple to decrypt data on-demand if a court order is presented.
“What we’re doing is talking to political leaders, to try and convince them that they should address this [encryption issue] with federal legislation. I think that has to be the solution”, Cyrus Vance said to a crown at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) on Wednesday, reports BuzzFeed News.
Vance said that strong encryption used in systems like iOS 9 and WhatsApp creates “warrant-proof devices”, that allow criminals to act with fear of repercussions.
“We now live in a world where we are not getting all the facts”, Vance added. “Many of the facts are on smartphones, because criminals, just like you and me, have moved off paper and onto digital devices”.
The D.A. says his office has around 230 Apple devices it can’t break into, tied to various serious crimes, adding that law enforcement should be able to search such encrypted devices just like police can obtain rights to search cars, homes and safety deposit boxes.
His position met some opposition at the CFR event though, including from Adam Segal, who is the director of the organisation’s digital arm, and who said that a US ban on such encryption would stop the technology being developed in other places.
Former Department of Homeland Security secretary Michael Chertoff said the current encryption debate is just the most recent “species of a problem” involving law enforcement’s need to gather evidence.
“Maybe it should be impossible to delete your email”, Chertoff commented. “Maybe there should be a rule that you can never shred a piece of paper”.
Segal pointed out that future terrorist attacks could lead to rushed laws on the matter, which Vance then said was the reason for tech companies and government to work on laws now.
A draft decryption bill proposed by U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein, the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016, has been opposed by tech corporations and civil liberties organizations, worried that the bill would force the creation of backdoors and expose the public to hackers, criminals, and spy agencies.
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.