Senate Republicans Propose Law to Outlaw End-to-End Encryption

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee press release:

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) today introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, a bill to bolster national security interests and better protect communities across the country by ending the use of “warrant-proof” encrypted technology by terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.

This is breathtaking. At least they’re being somewhat clear here: they’re proposing outlawing all end-to-end encryption. Encryption that is “warrant-proof” is everything-proof — there are no decryption keys in the middle. Encryption that can be undone at the behest of a lawful warrant can also be undone by anyone with access to the keys.

At the risk of oversimplifying things, it’s worth pointing out that you can’t just “add a backdoor” to a proper end-to-end encryption scheme. It’s the nature of the design not just that there are no backdoors but that there can be no backdoors. You can prove it, cryptographically, which is how you can trust it.

The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act is a balanced solution that keeps in mind the constitutional rights afforded to all Americans, […]


while providing law enforcement the tools needed to protect the public from everyday violent crime and threats to our national security.

Read the room, Republicans.

The bill would require service providers and device manufacturers to provide assistance to law enforcement when access to encrypted devices or data is necessary — but only after a court issues a warrant, based on probable cause that a crime has occurred, authorizing law enforcement to search and seize the data.

That’s how the law works today. What these fools are proposing is to make it illegal to build systems where even the company providing the service doesn’t hold the keys.

The best hope for this legislation is that it’s mere posturing by Republicans.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020