From Julian Sanchez of the libertarian Cato Institute:
There’s a lot to say about the substance of the misguided anti-encryption legislation sponsored by Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr, which was recently released as a “discussion draft” after a nearly-identical version leaked earlier this month. I hope to do just that in subsequent posts. But it’s also worth spending a little time on the proposal’s lengthy pre-amble, which echoes the rhetorical tropes frequently deployed by advocates for mandating government access to secure communications and stored data.
The bill is somewhat misleadingly titled the “Compliance With Court Orders Act of 2016”—which you’d think would be a matter for the Judiciary Committee, not the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence—and begins with the high minded declaration that “no person or entity is above the law.” Communication services and software developers, we are told, must “respect the rule of law and comply with all legal requirements and court orders.” In order to “uphold the rule of law,” then, those persons and entities must be able to provide law enforcement with the plaintext—the original, un-garbled contents—of any encrypted message or file when so ordered by a court.
The politest way I can think of to characterize this way of framing the issue is: Nonsense.