Bipartisan Lawmakers Introduce Secure Data Act to Protect Americans' Privacy and Data Security

May 10, 2018
Press Release
Legislation would prohibit law enforcement and surveillance agencies from forcing encryption backdoors in products and services

WASHINGTON, DC. – Bipartisan lawmakers today reintroduced the Secure Data Act to protect Americans' privacy and data security by prohibiting surveillance and law enforcement agencies from forcing companies to insert encryption backdoors into their products and services, making them less secure.

U.S. Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) introduced the Secure Data Act along with original cosponsors Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y), Ted Poe (R-Texas), Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) and Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).

“Encryption backdoors put the privacy and security of everyone using these compromised products at risk,” said Lofgren. “It is troubling that law enforcement agencies appear to be more interested in compelling U.S. companies to weaken their product security than using already available technological solutions to gain access to encrypted devices and services. Congress must act to protect the products available to Americans that keep their personal information safe from warrantless surveillance and hackers intent on breaching their data.”

 “When the government forces companies to insert security backdoors in their products, they make Americans less safe,” said Massie. “Backdoors in otherwise secure products make Americans’ data less safe, and they compromise the desirability of American goods overseas.”

US intelligence and law enforcement agencies have requested, required, and even sought court orders against individuals and companies to build a "backdoor,” weakening secure encryption in their product or service to assist in electronic surveillance. Today’s legislation comes on the heels of a troubling Department of Justice Office of Inspector General report calling into question the Federal Bureau of Investigations’ handling of Syed Rizwan Farook’s locked iPhone in the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino attack which suggested that FBI officials did not pursue available technical solutions to access Farook’s iPhone because the FBI preferred obtaining a precedent-setting court judgement compelling Apple to weaken their product encryption.

It is well-documented that encryption backdoors put the data security of every person and business using the products or services in question at risk. For example, a software testing firm found serious backdoor vulnerabilities in wiretapping software for law enforcement made by Israeli software firm NICE Systems in 2013 that allowed hackers to completely compromise their system and listen to intercepted phone calls. Backdoors created for law enforcement and intelligence surveillance are vulnerabilities available for hackers exploit.

Encryption backdoors also harm U.S. businesses and jobs. When the security of American products is compromised, consumers will buy less American hardware and software and will favor suppliers with more secure products from outside the United States. 

Read the full Secure Data Act here.

# # #