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In the US bill against end-to-end encryption: Apple's privacy at risk?

febrero 3, 2020

Republican Lindsey Graham is lobbying for new laws that target the use of encryption by internet giants in general and the disclaimer of these companies.

The bill, of which Graham the main promoter, attacks encrypted services from companies such as Apple's iCloud and Facebook's WhatsApp, endangering the immunity of IT companies that offer these functions and allowing legal action by victims of child exploitation and other crimes.

The bipartisan bill called “EARN IT”, acronym for “Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies Act of 2019 ′ (2019 act on the elimination of the abusive and rampant disinterest of interactive technologies) and presented with the aim of develop practices and methodologies "concerning the prevention of child exploitation online". In fact, the provisions of the bill would ban cryptography end-to-end, the encryption system that allows only us and the person with whom we are communicating, to be able to read what is sent, and no one else, not even to the company itself that manages the service.

Apple in trouble if this law passes to Australia

Bloomberg reports that the bipartisan measure has not yet been presented orally but would affect various social media companies, cloud services, email and messaging, preventing the plans of companies such as Facebook that aim to encrypt all messages and forcing Apple to integrate backdoor (service ports for authorities) in its devices and services.

"The worst possible scenario could easily come true," reports Berin Szoka, president of TechFreedom, a think tank that defends the choices of the companies that deal with technology. "The Justice Department could effectively ban end-to-end encryption."

Although cryptography is not referred to in the bill, companies are asked to work with law enforcement agencies to identify, remove, report and store evidence related to the exploitation of minors, elements that – those who criticize the bill – reports impossible to implement / manage for companies that use end-to-end encryption technology.

If IT companies do not certify that they follow the procedures (best practices) provided for by the specific commission, they lose the legal immunity they currently enjoy, opening the doors to avalanches of lawsuits for "irresponsible" violation of the law.

The timing for the introduction of the bill is unclear as senators are currently engaged as jury in the impeachment process against President Donald Trump. The FBI has repeatedly put pressure on the Secretary of Justice, William Barr, to adopt measures that weaken or ban end-to-end encryption.

Jane Horvath, Apple's senior director in charge of global privacy, who spoke at a privacy debate that took place at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2020) in Las Vegas, defended Apple's position on hardware encryption technologies, claiming to be deeply convinced that customer data must always remain obfuscated, reiterating the danger of backdoors to be integrated into operating systems.

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