They’ve been promising it for months now, without ever actually doing anything, but Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr (the two top members of the Senate Intelligence Committee) now insist that they’re finally ready to release their anti-encryption bill.
Feinstein told The Hill she passed the text along earlier this week to White House chief of staff Denis McDonough.
“My hope is since I was the one that gave it to Denis McDonough, they will take a look at it and let us know what they think,” she said.
The Obama administration’s response will determine the bill’s timing, Burr added.
The introduction “depends on how fast the White House gets back to us,” he said.
Since, to date, the administration has actually indicated that it does not support such a bill, one hopes that means the introduction will continue to be “sometime around never.” Even if it is introduced, it sounds like the bill may actually have a tough time getting anywhere. As we’ve noted, recent hearings suggest that many in Congress are quite skeptical of the FBI/DOJ’s claim that it needs backdoors into encryption. Indeed, even many in the intelligence community (which you’d think would have indicated this to Burr and Feinstein) don’t seem particularly enthusiastic about this. Reliable Feinstein/Burr allies like former NSA and CIA director Michael Hayden, former Homeland Security director Michael Chertoff and former NSA director Mike McConnell have spoken out strongly against such plans.
Given all that, it’s bizarre and ridiculous that Feinstein and Burr are continuing to move forward with this plan. Hopefully, the White House educates them on the issue and tells them to toss this bill into the garbage where it belongs.