Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Representative McCaul and Senator Warner seek to establish a Federal Security and Technology Commission; Intelligence Committee members queried

In a December 27, 2015, op-ed in the Washington Post, U.S. Representative Mike McCaul (R-TX) and U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) called for the creation of a Federal Security and Technology Commission (FSTC), writing, bi-partisanly:

“That is why we are proposing a national commission on security and technology challenges in the digital age.”

A core issue for consideration by the putative FSTC would certainly be the question of whether law enforcement and federal surveillance agencies should have access, however fettered, to materials encrypted by users of powerful “end-to-end” and on-device encryption.

This is a another way of saying that the FSTC  might be called upon to decide if vendors could offer such “end-to-end” and on-device encryption systems only if they build in a “back-door” key and give it to the government.

Richard Burr is the Republican Chair, and Diane Feinstein, and Ron Wyden are influential Democratic members of the United States Senate Select Commission on Intelligence (SSCI), which oversees the nation’s surveillance agencies. 

Etopia News has reached out to each of these senators, asking their views on the establishment of a Federal Security and Technology Commission and on whether “end-to-end” and on-device encryption should be prohibited unless the government is given “back-door” access.  Similar questions have also been posed to Democratic presidential candidates Senator Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Etopia News will report their comments as they come in.

For a compendium of comments by Senator Feinstein, who is the Vice Chair of the SSCI, and Senator Burr, regarding “end-to-end encryption” in the immediate aftermath of the November terrorist attack in Paris, click here.

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