Wyden at RightsCon: We need a new privacy compact for digital age

Should the U.S. government be allowed to force companies to weaken product security? Does any information that passes through a service provider lose protection for privacy? Should U.S. judges have the power to issue a warrant to conduct remote searches of potentially millions of computers outside of their jurisdiction?

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden took to the stage today at RightsCon Silicon Valley for Crypto Summit 2.0 to say no to each of these questions. There, he called for a new “Compact for Security & Liberty in the Digital Age.” The five-point compact responds to the U.S. government’s encroachments on our fundamental rights and freedoms, including attacks on privacy and the use of encryption to protect it.

“What I am not going to support, I am not going to support an effort to weaken strong encryption,” said Wyden.

According to Wyden, “security without liberty is not a choice free people will make.” The debate is not one about “privacy versus security,” but “security versus stronger security.”

The five points of the compact are:

  1. Pass the Secure Data Act that would prohibit government mandates for companies to undermine encryption;
  2. Reverse the “third-party doctrine” in which information service providers can access receives no constitutional privacy protection;
  3. Create a schedule for the U.S. Congress to investigate surveillance laws and their impact on privacy;
  4. Be vigilant regarding new attempts to “undermine checks on government power,” including a proposed rule change to allow judges to issue warrants for searches of millions of computers across jurisdictions; and
  5. Hire more people with knowledge of understanding of privacy and technology to work in intelligence agencies.

Access Now shares Wyden’s concerns. We have supported the Secure Data Act and testified against making changes to allow judges to issue sweeping computer search warrants, citing concerns that the proposed changes would permit greater intrusion into victims’ devices.

Here are additional highlights from his speech. You can tune in to more news from RightsCon here.