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Wyden Bill Would Ban Phone Data "Backdoors"

Flickr - Jonathan McIntosh:

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, an arch-foe of governmental surveillance of Americans, sees a new threat to individual privacy. Wyden calls it "backdooring." He means a demand by the FBI director that mobile phones be built so that government agents would have access to the information in them - so called backdoors.

As Wyden put it, "government-driven technology mandates to weaken data security to aid government investigations would compromise national and economic security and personal privacy." He believes that strong encryption is the best way to protect constitutional rights. He said "a person's whole life can often be found on his or her smart phone."

Wyden has written a short bill - it's only two pages - to prohibit any federal agency from ordering a phone manufacturer to include a security vulnerability that could be exploited by a government agent.

The point of the measure, he said, is to send a message to surveillance and police agencies to stop recklessly pushing for new ways to vacuum up Americans' private information.

Chances for passage are virtually nil in the current Congress which goes out of business at the end of this month. It's unclear whether the new GOP majority in the Senate next year will take up Wyden's measure.

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