Senators threaten to regulate encryption if tech companies won’t do it themselves

Lauren Feiner

Lawmakers on Tuesday threatened to pass litigation that would force technology companies to provide court-ordered access to encrypted devices and messages unless the businesses can come up with a solution.

“You’re going to find a way to do this or we’re going to do this for you,” Lindsey Graham, R-SC, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told representatives from Apple and Facebook, during their testimony.

The company representatives were joined by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance and Matt Tait, a cybersecurity fellow at the University of Texas at Austin, to discuss encryption and lawful access. Tech companies and government agencies are at odds over how to handle encryption in a world where criminals, like the rest of us, are spending more time on their smartphones and other gadgets.

Law enforcement officials argue that encryption keeps them from accessing criminals’ devices, even under a court order or after death, and prevents them from detecting internet-based crimes like sharing images of child exploitation. For tech companies, the focus remains protecting user privacy, and they say that creating a key or “backdoor” into the devices or messages makes the system vulnerable to malicious actors.

Click here to read more of this CNBC article by Lauren Feiner.