Apple winning as lawmakers give up on forced backdoors

By

iPhone SE
The FBI won't get its backdoor anytime soon.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

U.S. lawmakers are said to be giving up on their push for new encryption laws that would require companies like Apple to create software backdoors that allow the government to access our devices.

It’s thought the lack of White House support and Apple’s high-profile battle with the Justice Department, which was unable to force the company into providing an iPhone unlock, are some of the reasons why supporters are losing hope.

Following the San Bernardino shooting last December, lawmakers pledged to deliver new encryption laws that would provide law enforcement agencies with easy access to devices that could provide intelligence.

This backdoor would allow the FBI and other organizations to break into an iPhone or other smart device without a passcode. However, Apple and other tech giants are concerned that the backdoor could be exploited, allowing bad actors to access or data.

Apple publicly fought against the Justice Department’s request for an iPhone unlock, which the FBI needed to access a handset used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. The company received overwhelming support from fans, security experts, and other companies.

As a result, the lawmakers who are fighting for those new encryption laws are losing hope. “They’ve dropped anchor and taken down the sail,” former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden told Bloomberg.

It’s thought draft legislation is now unlikely to be introduced this year, and even if it is, it would “stand no chance of advancing,” reports Bloomberg. “The short life of the push for legislation illustrates the intractable nature of the debate over digital surveillance and encryption.”

This news will be well-received by Apple, its Silicon Valley peers, and civil liberties groups, which believe weakening security isn’t just bad for users, but the government, too. But the battle almost certainly isn’t over yet.

The FBI and others warn that without greater access to our data, we can expect to see an increased number of terrorist attacks.