Some Senators want an Orwellian reality.
Pucker up, big brother wants permanent access to your backdoor.
Let’s talk about big brother’s latest attempt to hamper our rights. The “Burr-Feinstein proposal” is a truly Orwellian bill that will remove our access to private secure communications and, in all seriousness of the word, ban them. It will effectively make it impossible for the average non-techie (that’s a large majority of us) to find and use secure communications software. It requires tech companies who build secure applications do so halfheartedly, willfully undermining their own security, AND should that data be inaccessible or impossible to read that company must then develop a new just-as-much-impossible way to get or read that data.
It will require Apple and Google to remove all secure communications applications from their US app stores unless that app applies with the loose-security mandate from the government, this includes Whatsapp and Gmail. The companies will then be forced to censor all future applications attempting to publish in their app stores. Somehow, Google and Apple will have to run each app through an extensive security test and confirm that each app has undermined security.
If this sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is. One of the best analogies I’ve heard so far — it’s like the government mandating that the company who built your home always keep an extra set of keys to your house and install a backdoor that only the company has the key to, assuming someone doesn’t steal that key.
The Burr-Feinstein proposal basically says that we are not allowed to own or use secure software; that there is no piece of information that the government does not have the right to access; that our privacy is trivial compared to their anxiety-filled crime fighting. It comprises your information and makes secure communications worthless. It demands companies actually assist in investigations without limit. It makes strong security illegal. It’s Orwellian madness crystallized.
One the side of the people.
There are some within Congress who understand these authoritarian implications, like Senator Rob Wyden from Oregon.
We can expect Senator Bernie Sanders to be against this as well. Gizmodo has this to say about his #digitalsecurity views:
Sanders has openly tweeted that the NSA is “out of control” and “acting in an unconstitutional manner,” and in a Time report, Sanders called the NSA “Orwellian,” which is definitely not a nod to the agency’s literary prowess.
What you can do.
It’s clear authoritarian absurdity means it’s unlikely to pass, but more absurd laws have been passed when no one was paying attention. Tell Senator Burr and Senator Feinstein that this bill is a clear violation of our basic rights that represents the most Orwellian law in recent memory. Use EFF’s Democracy.io to painless find your state representatives to tell them how you feel about this abomination. Take it one step further and let President Obama know that we will cannot give up this fundamental liberty for the sake of so-called security. Finally, please sign this easy to use EFF petition.
Will you speak up?
Imagine you attend a peaceful protest that turns violent, and you go home for the sake of your safety or maybe you apathetically stand by, but now the government has you at the scene of a crime. Is it right of them to demand access to all of your data? Or one of your relatives is a suspected gang member in California and your name is in their phone, making you a known gang associate in the eyes of California, is it right of them to demand access to all of your data? We can go through these hypothetical scenarios all day, but instead, let’s take a stand here and now, while we still have a chance.
Do you want a future where your information — your data, your credit card information, your business dealings, your intimate photos, your Tinder conversations— basically your entire life, everything that represents who you are, to be subject to search and blatant censorship?
It’s Orwellian madness crystallized.
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I’m Marck Ernest Thornton. I’m passionate about writing, interactive and digital media, social justice, journalism and design. You can ask me to work with you, invite me to speak at your event, or grab a coffee if you’re in Berlin. I’m excited to hear from you!