MORNING CONSULT: New Bill Would Prevent Future Legal Showdowns on Encryption

Mar 23, 2016
In The News

Amid the debate playing out in the American public about the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s case against Apple, a House Republican from Arizona introduced a bill that would prevent the government from pressing similar cases in the future.

Retiring Rep. Matt Salmon, a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, introduced the Protect Our Devices Act Tuesday evening. The bill would prohibit any agent of the federal government from using the All Writs Act to compel a tech company to break the encryption for their service.

The bill targets the 1789 law that permits courts in the U.S. to “issue all writs necessary or appropriate” to help in a legal case. The federal court in California used the All Writs Act to compel Apple to create software to help investigators bypass the security systems on the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple appealed, and the FBI postponed their Tuesday hearing because they received an offer from an outside entity to try getting into the phone one more time.

“The FBI’s recent attempt to interpret a 1789 law as granting them the power to compel a company to fundamentally undermine their product shocked privacy and intellectual property advocates across our nation,” Salmon said in a statement. “Contrary to the FBI’s assertion, should they get their way, the safety and security of everyday Americans’ data will be compromised. We cannot allow this to happen.”