U.S. Senators Threaten Apple and Facebook With Encryption Regulation

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Executives from Apple and Facebook were grilled over their encryption policies in a U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, with senators threatening encryption regulation.

According to Reuters, senators told Apple and Facebook that the two companies need to find a way to make encrypted data available to law enforcement for investigations.

“You’re going to find a way to do this or we’re going to go do it for you,” said Senator Lindsey Graham. “We’re not going to live in a world where a bunch of child abusers have a safe haven to practice their craft. Period. End of discussion.”

Facebook earlier this year said that it would extend end-to-end encryption across all of its messaging services and has since faced blowback from U.S., UK, and Australian government officials who have requested backdoor access.

Apple faced a major encryption battle with the United States government in 2016 when it refused to provide the government with the tools to unlock the iPhone owned by the San Bernadino shooter.

Apple at the time argued that adding backdoor access to the ‌iPhone‌ would weaken it for everyone and that criminals would quickly gain access to any backdoor tools that Apple established.

Facebook privacy chief Jay Sullivan was at the hearing with Apple privacy chief Erik Neuenschwander, and even amid scrutiny from regulators, the two companies were still at each other’s throats, with Neuenschwander and Sullivan each suggesting lawmakers focus scrutiny on the other company’s business.

Sullivan pointed out that Facebook does not build devices or operating systems, while Neuenschwander said that Apple doesn’t have “forums for strangers to contact each other” and doesn’t see Apple “scanning material of our users to build profiles of them.”

Apple has been staunchly against creating backdoors for government access and has warned of the dangers of weakening encryption. Apple does cooperate with law enforcement by providing relevant iCloud data in law enforcement investigations when requested.

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