A New Bill Seeks to Ban FBI Backdoors in Hardware

By Jamie Condliffe on at

US Senator Ron Wyden is trying to pass a law that would make it impossible for state agencies to force electronics manufacturers into including backdoors in their products.

While the FBI head James Comey wants to force hardware manufacturers to make their products easier to spy on, Ron Wyden thinks otherwise. "Strong encryption and sound computer security is the best way to keep Americans' data safe from hackers and foreign threats," he explains in statement. "It is the best way to protect our constitutional rights at a time when a person's whole life can often be found on his or her smartphone."

So he's proposed the Secure Data Act, "to protect Americans' privacy and data security." The bills claims to be an attempt to rebuild trust in America's use of technology and data, eroded away to virtually nothing by the NSA debacle.

The news has implications for residents beyond the US, as the FBI has the ability to access phone data from people across the world. On top of the fact that the phone manufacturers who could place these backdoors in devices sell their products across the globe.

Essentially, the new bill would block Government-driven technology mandates, and hopefully in the process strengthen data security. It points out that "once a backdoor is built in a security system, the security of the system is inherently compromised," adding that "companies have less incentive to invest in the development and deployment of strong new data security technologies if they are required to compromise them from the outset."

How far the bill will get remains to be seen. But it's at least heartening that some senators are fighting the powers that be. [Ron Wyden]