White House declines to support encryption legislation

Daily News Article - April 8, 2016


1. How did the Obama administration respond to draft legislation offered to the White House for review?

2. What would the proposed law do?

3. What doesn’t the proposed legislation specify?

4. What is President Obama’s view on requiring Apple and other tech companies to help law enforcement crack encrypted data?

5. What is assumed to be the Obama administration’s motive for declining to offer support for the proposed legislation?

6. Who opposes the proposed bill? What reasons do they give for their opposition?

7. PC World reported:

FBI Director James Comey has long pushed for encryption workarounds, and just last month, Obama called for tech companies and the government to work together to allow police access to suspects’ smartphones protected by encryption.

But members of the Obama administration are divided on the encryption issue, and the White House has decided to largely stay on the sidelines when Senators Burr and Feinstein of the Senate Intelligence Committee, introduce their bill. The White House has reviewed the draft legislation and offered suggestions, but it plans to stay out of a public debate over the proposal.

If President Obama believes it is necessary to the safety of the American people to require Apple and other tech companies help law enforcement crack encrypted data, do you think he should support the proposed legislation? Explain your answer.

8. Consider the following:

If law enforcement can search your house, your car, your papers, etc. (with probable cause or a search warrant), should a company be permitted to design something that can never be searched in the name of privacy? Explain your answer.

9. The Facebook-owned messaging service WhatsApp announced this week that it had implemented complete encryption of its service - and now cannot get access to customer messages even if was ordered to by a court. This could pose a danger to Americans by enabling terrorists to communicate in complete secrecy. If allowing Americans to enjoy completely private communication also gives terrorists the same opportunity, should a company offer such technology? Explain your answer. Explain your answer.

10. No data is safe - everything can be hacked. Should we be under the assumption that any of our private data is secure? Explain your answer.