Usually, D.C. moves slowly. There’s a kind of plodding, methodical rhythm to Congress and the federal agencies, and very little turns on a dime. So it stands out that less than 48 hours after introducing a bill into the Senate, over 42,000 people have already objected to basically everything about it.
The bill, the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016, was introduced Wednesday by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Richard Burr. The bipartisan proposal comes in the wake of the very public fight between Apple and the FBI that has catapulted the potential conflicts between personal privacy and national security — as seen by law enforcement — into the national spotlight.
Critics of the CCOA say that it would weaken encryption, force technology companies to release crappier, less-safe products, and leave basically everyone’s personal data at risk. Those critics include the activists at CREDO Action, who launched a petition asking Congress not to move forward with the Burr-Feinstein bill.
“As this debate continues to play out over the coming weeks and months, we need to forcefully reject the dangerous language in the Burr-Feinstein bill and any other legislation that would put Americans’ privacy and security at risk by undermining encryption,” the petition concludes.
Apparently tens of thousands of people agreed, and in a very short period of time. By 9:30 this morning (eastern time), the petition had sailed well past 40,000 signatures and was still climbing. Other advocacy groups, including the EFF, are also against the bill.
Activists are not alone in their strong exception to the proposal. The tech industry, or at least the big trade groups representing most Silicon Valley firms, thinks the draft is basically terrible. And some other members of Congress, like Sen. Ron Wyden Rep. Jerry McNerney, are also in favor of protecting consumers’ rights to encrypt their personal data.