It’s not up for adoption yet, but already major tech companies are sounding the alarm about a new bill that could pressure companies to bust into encrypted devices like smartphones when asked to do so by the government.
On Tuesday four groups representing companies such as Microsoft (msft), Google (googl), Amazon (amzn), Paypal (pypl), and Facebook (fb) drafted an open letter to Senate intelligence committee chairs Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who released their new draft of the controversial bill last week. The tech groups say if adopted, the new law would create “government-mandated security vulnerabilities,” essentially requiring tech companies to build hackable software for the government.
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The new encryption bill comes on the heels of Apple’s (aapl) big fight with the FBI last month over whether the company could be forced to help law enforcement crack into an encrypted iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. That fight was pushed aside when the FBI got help from a third party, but the debate over whether tech companies should be forced to help crack into other encrypted information on user devices wages on.
Apple’s latest transparency report suggests the company did help law enforcement in a majority of cases last year, objecting to 11% of law enforcement requests, while providing data in 80% of cases. But the difference with the new law, the companies say, is it could force software engineers to make security systems weaker and more hackable because it would make it illegal for companies to bow out of decoding unintelligible, encrypted data on devices in criminal cases.
For more on Apple and its iPhones, watch:
Under the new bill, companies would be responsible for turning over encrypted data if demanded by court order in criminal cases that involve death, serious injury, drug offenses, child victims, or foreign intelligence operations, Reuters reported.
Burr and Feinstein are now soliciting input on the bill, introduced as a draft last week, before formally introducing it for adoption in the Senate.
Here’s the letter to the senators: