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Bipartisan encryption bill seeks to end feud between FBI, tech industry

USA TODAY

Friday, February 26, 2016

As the Justice Department and Apple fight a legal battle over unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone, two members of Congress are pushing bipartisan legislation to try to end the high-stakes encryption war.

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, R-Texas, and Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a former tech entrepreneur who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, will introduce a bill next week to create a national commission on digital security. The panel would try to find ways to help federal agents catch terrorists who communicate with encrypted cellphones and apps without sacrificing Americans’ privacy or making them more vulnerable to hackers.

If Congress had created a commission a few years ago, the fight between the federal government and Apple may have been prevented, Warner said Wednesday.

“My fear is we’re talking past each other,” the senator said during an appearance with McCaul at the Bipartisan Policy Center. “This is not going to get fixed if we keep doing that.”

The 16-member panel, modeled after the 9/11 Commission that made recommendations on how to prevent terrorist attacks, would be made up of civil liberty and privacy advocates, law enforcement and intelligence officials, professors, lawyers, tech executives, and computer science and cryptography experts. Its first report with recommendations to Congress would be due about six months after its creation, Warner said.

KEYWORDS: 114TH CONGRESS, 9/11 COMMISSION, MARK WARNER, MIKE MCCAUL, SENATE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE