The son of Holocaust survivors is leading the resistance against a move to water down the encryption technology that protects Americans’ digital privacy.
“I believe weakening strong encryption puts at risk millions of Americans, families and communities from one end of the country to another,” U.S. Sen Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)said this week at the RightsCon gatherng in San Francisco.
The battle over what data the government can gain access to from consumer digital devices has taken on new urgency.
Apple held its ground in recent months as the feds sought to hack into the iPhone of Syed Farook, the dead San Bernardino terrorist gunman.
The Forward recently reported that the FBI went around Apple and hired an Israeli company to beat the iPhone’s encryption — and it did, officials said Monday.
The government argued the device could hold precious secrets that may help stop future terror attacks. And now, two of Wyden’s colleagues — fellow Democrat Dianne Feinstein of California, and Republican Richard Burr of North Carolina —are about to unveil new laws to dictate what encrypted information tech firms must hand over when investigators come knocking.
Wyden hinted he would filibuster any such legislation.
“I would do anything within my power as a United States senator to block any plan that weakens strong encryption,” said Wyden, who is Jewish and the son of Holocaust survivors.
“I’m not setting up a dead terrorist caucus,” Wyden insists in the face of criticism that his leadership on the privacy debate plays right into the hands of those who would blow up and gun down Americans.
“This is about more security versus less security,” he declared. “This issue is as important as any that I’ve been involved in in my 15 years in the intelligence committee.” — With Reuters
John Oswald is The Forward’s deputy digital media editor.