Senate Republicans want tech companies to allow 'lawful access' to encrypted data

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What you need to know

  • U.S. Senate Republicans have introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, calling for an end to "warrant-proof" encryption.
  • If the act is passed, tech giants such as Google, Apple, and Facebook will be required to help investigators access encrypted data.
  • Facebook has responded to the proposed legislation by saying that weakening encryption will make everyone less safe.

Republican lawmakers have proposed a new bill that seeks to end "warrant-proof" encryption that has been "disrupting" criminal investigations in the U.S. The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, if passed, will force tech giants such as Facebook to comply with "lawful access" to encrypted data (via CNET).

The proposed legislation will enable law enforcement agencies to retrieve encrypted information from tech giants to assist in their investigations and help carry out a warrant, after obtaining required court authorizations. If tech companies are forced to create "encryption backdoors" for government agencies, it would significantly weaken the strength of data encryption, and could potentially leave users vulnerable to attacks by hackers and cybercriminals.

Responding to the proposed bill, Facebook said in a statement:

End-to-end encryption is a necessity in modern life -- it protects billions of messages sent every day on many apps and services, especially in times like these when we can't be together. Rolling back this vital protection will make us all less safe, not more. We are committed to continuing to work with law enforcement and fighting abuse while preserving the ability for all Americans to communicate privately and securely.

The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act comes just three months after a bipartisan group of senators introduced the EARN IT Act, which aims to undercut Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) and weaken encryption to "combat" online child sexual exploitation.

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Babu Mohan
News Writer