Senate panel chief drops plan to criminalize firms that don’t unlock decrypted devices

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A bill quietly proposed in the Senate House could have seen companies being penalised for not following court orders to decrypt encrypted messages and data. Richard Burr, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, was the one who had initially proposed the bill before eventually dropping it. 

With Apple deciding to fight against the court order to help the FBI in decrypting the iPhone 5c of one of the shooters in the San Bernardino shooting case, the issue of getting tech companies to decrypt data of their customers has once again come in spotlight.

While Burr’s spokeswoman denied that Burr was ever considering criminal penalties on companies, the Wall Street Journal citing it sources says that the chairman was indeed considering criminal penalties as a part of the proposal. The proposal has been dropped by Burr for now, but he is studying ways through which the encryption rules can be tightened.

“Chairman Burr is not considering criminal penalties in his draft encryption proposals,” his spokeswoman said.

In the pass, Burr has pressurised tech companies to work with various government agencies in preventing encryption tools from being used and carrying out crimes. He also warned the firms that they need to change their “business model” due to their ever increasing use of encrypted forms of communications.

Since the proposed bill has been dropped for now, tech companies are in the clear for now. However, their fate will now rest in Apple’s hand, who is the first major tech company to receive a court order to decrypt an iPhone, which the company has refused to do.

[Via Wall Street Journal]

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Related Topics: Apple News, Apple vs. FBI