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house Bill H.R. 4651

Bringing Tech Companies and Law Enforcement Together to Balance Privacy and Security

Argument in favor

Letting a commission of experts from tech companies, law enforcement, and other stakeholders develop policies balancing privacy and security concerns, then pass their recommendations to Congress is a good way to start a dialogue on these issues.

Miranda's Opinion
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03/04/2016
Recommendations should be made by people who understand the industry.
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Knotwhimsy's Opinion
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03/04/2016
The need for privacy and the need for security are both important, and yet seemingly at odds with each other. Getting representatives for both issues to work together is a good idea. I especially appreciate the bipartisan approach.
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Jozi's Opinion
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03/04/2016
Congress aren't experts in technologies and the private sector. We need people who know what they're talking about to work together with congress
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Argument opposed

Congress should come up with their own solution to the encryption debate rather than forming a commission for law enforcement and the private sector to try to strike a balance between privacy and security when it comes to encrypted technologies.

Eric's Opinion
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03/04/2016
End to end encryption is vital in protecting our fourth amendment right in the digital age
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Josiah's Opinion
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03/04/2016
Keep the government out of our business! It's not about safety ! It's about CONTROL !!!!
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Loraki's Opinion
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03/07/2016
THE ONLY THING WE NEED TO BALANCE PRIVACY AND SECURITY IS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO STICK TO FOLLOWING THE U.S. CONSTITUTION!
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What is House Bill H.R. 4651?

This bill would create an Independent Digital Security Commission tasked with making recommendations about policies, practices, or legislation to balance privacy and security concerns related to digital technologies. 

The Commission would include 16 leaders from the technology industry, law enforcement, privacy activists, and other areas who are selected by party leaders from each chamber of Congress.

Specifically, the Commission would make recommendations regarding the following:

  • Methods to take advantage of the benefits of digital security and communications technology while reducing the risk of abuse by bad actors;

  • The tools, training, and resources that could be utilized by law enforcement and national security agencies to adapt to the new digital landscape;

  • Cooperation between the government and private sector to work together to impede terrorists’ use of digital security and communications technology to mobilize, facilitate, and carry out attacks;

  • Any revisions to current law regarding wiretaps and warrants for digital data, while preserving privacy and market competitiveness;

  • Proposed changes to the procedures for obtaining warrants to increase efficiency and cost effectiveness for the government, tech companies, and service providers;

  • Steps the U.S. can take to lead the development of international standards for digital evidence in criminal investigations.

The task of selecting commission members would fall to the Speaker of the House and Senate Majority Leader who would select eight members and the Chairman, while the House and Senate Minority Leaders would select eight members and the Vice Chairman. The President would also have the option of selecting one ex officio individual who would serve in a non-voting role. Both the Majority and Minority representatives from Congress would appoint U.S. citizens with experience from each of the following fields:

  • Cryptography;

  • Global commerce and economics;

  • Federal law enforcement;

  • Consumer-facing technology sector;

  • Enterprise technology sector;

  • Intelligence community;

  • Privacy and civil liberties community.

Commissioners must be appointed within 30 days of this legislation’s enactment, and the first meeting must be held within the first 60 days of enactment. An interim report would be published within six months of the initial meeting, while the final report would be due 12 months after the first meeting. Both reports would require the approval of at least 12 of 16 commissioners.

The Commission would be able to hold hearings, take testimony and other information, and require witnesses as well as the production of documents as it deems necessary. It could access information from any executive branch entity, but must securely receive, handle, and store sensitive information in compliance with all applicable laws. In order to subpoena relevant materials 12 of 16 commissioners must vote in favor.

Impact

Members of the to be established Digital Security Commission — especially privacy advocates, tech companies, and law enforcement; Congressional leadership; and the President.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 4651

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.

More Information

In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) introduced this legislation to address the complicated issue of balancing privacy and security in the digital age:

“The challenge of protecting national security and digital security simultaneously, is complex. The ongoing Apple vs. FBI dispute is only a symptom of a much larger problem. But we are almost certain to see this scenario repeated unless the larger issue is addressed. Law enforcement clearly needs the ability to gain lawful access to information that can stop future attacks. I am proud to partner with Senator Warner on this initiative and I urge our colleagues in both chambers to quickly establish this Commission so we may effectively address this challenge for law enforcement now and in the future.”

This legislation was drafted in a bipartisan manner by Rep. McCaul and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), who introduced a companion bill in the Senate. The bill currently enjoys the support of 18 cosponsors in the House, including 12 Republicans and six Democrats.


Of Note: In the wake of the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA, the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) inability to unlock the gunman’s iPhone, and Apple’s refusal to comply with a court order to unlock the iPhone sparked a heated debate surrounding encryption standards and security. Law enforcement has requested that tech companies build similar backdoors into devices in the past because well-encrypted devices are practically "warrant proof" according to FBI Director James Comey, But tech companies and privacy advocates believe such tools pose a threat to all users' privacy by their mere existence.

Other tech companies have joined Apple in opposing the FBI's request, while six relatives of victims killed in the San Bernardino attack filed a legal brief stating that Apple should comply with federal warrants to prevent future attacks.


Media:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user opensource.com)

AKA

Digital Security Commission Act of 2016

Official Title

To establish in the legislative branch the National Commission on Security and Technology Challenges.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on Energy and Commerce
      Committee on Foreign Affairs
      Committee on the Judiciary
      Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security
    IntroducedFebruary 29th, 2016
    Recommendations should be made by people who understand the industry.
    Like (48)
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    End to end encryption is vital in protecting our fourth amendment right in the digital age
    Like (45)
    Follow
    Share
    Keep the government out of our business! It's not about safety ! It's about CONTROL !!!!
    Like (17)
    Follow
    Share
    THE ONLY THING WE NEED TO BALANCE PRIVACY AND SECURITY IS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO STICK TO FOLLOWING THE U.S. CONSTITUTION!
    Like (16)
    Follow
    Share
    The need for privacy and the need for security are both important, and yet seemingly at odds with each other. Getting representatives for both issues to work together is a good idea. I especially appreciate the bipartisan approach.
    Like (14)
    Follow
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    This is not needed. There's no need for debate. What the FBI asks for regarding to Apple is unconstitutional.
    Like (13)
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    Get back to me when law enforcement has earned my trust back.
    Like (12)
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    Congress aren't experts in technologies and the private sector. We need people who know what they're talking about to work together with congress
    Like (10)
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    The only way I can see this is by some mutual agreement. If the Tech companies say no, that's the answer. At this point, the Feds needs to hire some good code crackers from private companies.
    Like (9)
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    The commission would be selected by and answer to congress. They would be under pressure to yield to congressional demands. And congress could use the "recommendations" of the commission to justify whatever outcome congress sees fit.
    Like (7)
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    Countable member Loraki stated it splendidly: "THE ONLY THING WE NEED TO BALANCE PRIVACY AND SECURITY IS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO STICK TO FOLLOWING THE U.S. CONSTITUTION!" I would only add: "AND FOLLOW BIBLICAL MORAL PRINCIPLES. (The very same ones that we used to follow. The very same ones that made our country a shining international example of God's grace to begin with).
    Like (5)
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    The Gornment has no right to force companies into helping them, if the bill said specifically promote instead, perhaps my vote would've been different
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    Our rights under the Fourth Amendment still apply to technology. The private sector should not be compelled to compromise the privacy of users, nor should they provide a service that could allow law enforcement to effectively bypass the process of obtaining a warrant.
    Like (3)
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    Encryption should be de facto standard. No one should have access to my communications. Repeal the PATRIOT act please.
    Like (3)
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    This smells like big government
    Like (3)
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    We need less government overreach. Giving more voice to the private sector's privacy concerns should help with this issue.
    Like (3)
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    This will most likely end up being another waste of time and money. I'm all for encryption. The government doesn't have the right to see my information or anyone else's.
    Like (3)
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    Eventually all cyber privacy will be eliminated, slowly, but surely.
    Like (3)
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    Firstly, we are losing privacy. And two, congress actually needs to do something solid.
    Like (3)
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    Privacy is the number one concern. End to end encryption is a right; people can do with their data what they like. No company should be forced to destroy all privacy for all people to allegedly stop terrorism.
    Like (3)
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