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The Feinstein-Burr Senate Encryption Bill Is Here, and Silicon Valley Still Hates It

The Compliance with Court Orders Act is officially here.

Composite image by Re/code

Last week, Re/code’s Dawn Chmielewski reported that Silicon Valley was already on the offensive against the then-unfinished Senate encryption bill. The legislation in the draft requires companies like Apple to comply with court orders to decrypt messages.

Today, Sens. Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein (Republican and Democrat, respectively), unveiled their bill, the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016. Little in the language changed and, predictably, Silicon Valley still hates it.

The legislation aims to force tech companies to obey court orders to grant government investigators access to encrypted messages. This is, of course, the exact issue at hand in the fight between the FBI and Apple over an encrypted iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers. The FBI was ultimately able to use what the Washington Post says was a one-time workaround that it paid a freelance group of hackers to deploy.

In a statement accompanying the release of the bill, Burr said that he believes “data is too insecure, and feel[s] strongly that consumers have a right to seek solutions that protect their information — which involves strong encryption.”

“I do not believe, however, that those solutions should be above the law,” he continued.

When reached for comment on the bill’s introduction, a representative for the Internet Association, a trade organization that represents most of the Silicon Valley heavies, directed Re/code to its statement responding to the previously reported draft.

“The draft legislation, as currently written, creates a mandate that companies engineer vulnerabilities into their products or services, which will harm national security and put Americans at risk,” said organization leader Michael Beckerman in the statement.

The Compliance With Court Orders Act is already getting pushback from within political spheres, too. Reliable government surveillance opponent and Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden said he will do “everything in my power” to stop the bill. The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a prominent civil liberties advocacy organization, told the Daily Dot basically the same thing.

Realistically, the Compliance With Court Orders Act doesn’t have much of a shot at getting signed into law.

President Obama has already signaled that he won’t support the bill, according to Reuters. In the House, Republican Rep. Darrell Issa released a scathing condemnation of the draft legislation.

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