Wyden: No more ‘back doors’ in Americans’ computers, phones

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon wants to ban the practice of requiring tech companies to integrate back doors into their devices, allowing the federal government to snoop on Americans.

In a bill introduced Thursday, titled the Secure Data Act, Wyden, a Democrat, lays out the case for scrapping government requirements for companies who produce cell phones and computers to include capabilities for law enforcement and federal agencies to secretly access user data.

“This bill sends a message to leaders of those agencies to stop recklessly pushing for new ways to vacuum up Americans’ private information, and instead put that effort into rebuilding public trust,” said Wyden in a statement on his website.

If passed, the bill would amend the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, passed during the Bill Clinton era, which requires telecommunications firms to “enable the government to intercept” all communications “in a format such that they may be transmitted by means of equipment, facilities, or services procured by the government,” according to the law.

It is with this in mind that many tech companies, such as Apple and Google, have been accused of placing back doors in their systems, most recently by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum and forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski. The companies have so far denied such claims.

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