On June 23, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), U.S. Senators Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) introduced the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, a bill aimed at eliminating one of the last barriers to intrusive government spying on citizens.
The Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act, LAED for short, seeks to end all forms of end-to-end encryption in communication technology. End-to-end encryption ensures that people from all walks of life can maintain privacy in their communications and technology use. By forcing tech companies to embed backdoors into their technology this bill would make hacking and stealing personal data much easier. Even though law enforcement would need a warrant to access any backdoor, that doesn’t mean the warrant makes the back door appear. The access point will always be present and vulnerable. Much like the concept of a gun in a play, if it is there it will likely be used.
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The LAED aims to force technology companies that have over 1 million monthly users, or 1 million units sold, to place a virtual backdoor into all of their technology which would give law enforcement access should they produce a warrant. Specifically, this bill would bar technology services like WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and recently, Zoom from keeping your information and communications totally private and secure.
Furthermore, the need for a warrant to access this information will not likely stop law enforcement, as we have seen so often the presence of a warrant is immaterial in many circumstances. Just like no-knock raids by SWAT teams, warrants become meaningless for law enforcement bent on doing what they believe is justice.
The Senators’ arguments in favor of this act are based on a misunderstanding of the value of end-to-end encryption in our everyday lives. End-to-end encryption allows hospitals and schools to keep your information safe from hackers and bad actors.
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The LAED Act currently has a long way to go to becoming law. At the moment of publishing (July 9), it has only been introduced to the Senate for consideration. But we believe it should not even get any further. It is dangerous to our privacy on the internet.
Sign the petition and let the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee that you believe this act should be dropped from consideration.
Send a tweet to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee so we can move the conversation to social media and make sure as many people know about this bill as possible.