Thursday, January 21, 2016

Making the establishment of a Federal Security and Technology Commission an issue

On December 27, 2015, Texas Congressman Mike McCaul and Virginia Senator Mark Warner, a Republican and a Democrat, respectively, proposed the creation of a Federal Security and Technology Commission (FSTC), here.

They wrote:  “…we are proposing a national commission on security and technology challenges in the digital age.”

It has proven exceptionally difficult to get anyone in Washington D.C. or the presidential campaign trail to express support or opposition to this proposal.

The creation of this new panel is closely linked to a resolution of the issue of “exceptional access mechanisms” (EAMs) (i.e., “back-doors”) as discussed and opposed by a large and especially-distinguished group of cryptographers, in a July 9, 2015, post entitled “The Risks of Mandating Backdoors in Encryption Products.”

No one seems to want to oppose or support such EAMs, either.

But one member of the U.S. Senate has now stepped forward to help crystallize the establishment of a Federal Security and Technology Commission as a bona fide political issue.   

The second-most-senior Democrat on the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI), Senator Ron Wyden has officially made the establishment of the FSTC an “issue” by acknowledging that it is something he hasn’t taken a position on yet, but that he might take a position on in the future.

According to an e-mail received this afternoon by Etopia News from his Portland-based press secretary, “The senator hasn’t taken a position on this idea. Will let you know if that changes.”

This is almost-irrefutable evidence that at least one U.S. Senator besides proposal co-author Mark Warner has considered this issue.

Senator Wyden is a co-member with Senator Warner on the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, chaired by Republican Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, whose remarks on “end-to-end” encryption, along with those of vice chairman Senator Diane Feinstein of California, can be found in a previous Etopia News article here.

Senator Burr has become better known in the last few hours due to a report, which he is vehemently denying that he said he would ”vote for liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders for president before [Ted] Cruz.”

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