Proposed Republican bill would crack down on unbreakable encryption

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Privacy Screen makes Google Drive just a bit more secure.
Apple is a big believer in privacy.
Photo: Google/Cult of Mac

Republican senatators have proposed a new bill that would end the use of unbreakable encryption by tech companies on the basis that it helps “terrorists and other bad actors to conceal illicit behavior.”

The so-called Lawful Access to Encrypted Data Act is proposed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee).

Zoom does an about-face on end-to-end encryption

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Zoom
Zoom will offer top-tier encryption to all users.
Photo: Allie Smith/Unsplash

Zoom promised on Wednesday to make end-to-end encryption an option for all users, not just paying ones.

This video conferencing app became incredibly popular during the COVID-19 epidemic. But it also drew criticism for weak security.

Zoom worked quickly to fix that, but again faced complaints when the company decided that end-to-end encryption would only be for paying customers. That’s a decision it changed today.

Zoom buys startup to bring end-to-end encryption to video calls

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Zoom promises to work harder to protect user privacy.
Zoom calls are already encrypted, and the company committed today to step up to end-to-end encryption.
Photo: Zoom

Zoom on Thursday acquired Keybase for its experience with encryption and security.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought millions of new users to Zoom, but also criticism for weak security. Its stated goal in purchasing the smaller company, which developed its own messaging and file-sharing service, is to bring end-to-end encryption to Zoom meetings.

Zoom 5.0 aims to stamp out Zoombombing

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Zoom 5.0 brings much-needed security enhancements hoping to end Zoombombing.
When you’re having a Zoom meeting and Satan drops in unexpectedly? That’s Zoombombing.
Photo: Zoom/Cult of Mac

Zoom on Wednesday committed to upgrading the encryption in its video-chatting app. And Zoom 5.0, which will be out within the week, will include additional security controls for meeting hosts, like the ability to report disruptive users.

Use of this platform rose enormously since people around the world went into self quarantine. And criticism of Zoom’s security and privacy controls also increased dramatically as Zoombombing became a thing.

MI5 boss thinks tech companies should provide ‘exceptional access’ to encrypted messages

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UAE iPhone hacks
Spymaster thinks intelligence agency should be able to read encrypted messages when it needs to.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

The UK’s director general of intelligence agency MI5 thinks that tech companies should provide it with “exceptional access” to encrypted messages when required.

Sir Andrew Parker made his remarks for an ITV documentary broadcast on Thursday about the domestic intelligence agency. He said that it is “increasingly mystifying” why intelligence agencies are not able to easily read the secret messages being sent and received by terror suspects they are monitoring.

Signal is the European Commission’s encrypted messaging app of choice

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Signal app
Signal is all about privacy.
Photo: Signal

The European Commission doesn’t want its staff using WhatsApp or iMessage for internal communications. Instead, they must start using end-to-end-encrypted messaging app Signal as part of a push toward greater security.

“Signal has been selected as the recommended application for public instant messaging,” noted an instruction that reportedly appeared on internal EC messaging boards in early February.

Congress might give law enforcement a ‘backdoor’ into encrypted messages

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The FBI finally hacked an iPhone 11
Congress might use child abuse as an excuse to weaken the encryption in Apple Messages and similar apps.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

No one could protest legislation aimed at curbing child sex abuse, but a bill that reportedly will be introduced soon in the US Congress could have much wider consequences. One result might be a legally mandated requirement that messaging services have a “backdoor” so that law enforcement can read all encrypted messages.

FBI director says Feds still can’t unlock iPhone in Pensacola shooting case

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FBI director says Feds still can't unlock iPhone in Pensacola shooting case
FBI wants Apple to help it unlock handset.
Photo: Dave Newman/Flickr CC

FBI director Christopher Wray says that the Feds are still unable to access the encrypted data on an iPhone belonging to the shooter responsible for killing three Americans at a Pensacola, Florida naval base in late 2019.

The FBI says that it has reconstructed the phone after it was damaged. But it still can’t access the information on the handset itself.

Trump: Apple encryption could protect ‘criminal minds’

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President Trump: Apple encryption could protect ‘criminal minds’
Donald Trump thinks Apple needs to help authorities by unlocking iPhones.
Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC

President Donald Trump is no fan of Apple’s refusal to unlock iPhones for authorities in encryption-stymied criminal cases. In an interview with CNBC, Trump said, “Apple has to help us. And I’m very strong on it. They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds, and we can do things.”

Trump is currently in Davos, Switzerland, attending the World Economic Forum. This morning, he met with Tim Cook for a working breakfast.