The technology world is still reeling from last week’s Twitter account highjacks. As a result, it looks like lawmakers are beginning to publicly demand end-to-end encryption for social media accounts. The Eliminating Abusive and Rampant Neglect of Interactive Technologies (“EARN IT”) Act is currently moving forward in Congress, but with high-profile attacks fresh on everyone’s mind, will politicians stop supporting the bill?
Senator demands end-to-end encryption for DMs
Motherboard reports that Democratic Senator Ron Wyden is understandably concerned about the security implications of the Twitter account highjacks. The lawmaker is demanding the social media giant explain why they have not implemented end-to-end encryption on direct messages.
As Wyden states: "In September of 2018, shortly before he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, I met privately with Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey. During that conversation, Mr. Dorsey told me the company was working on end-to-end encrypted direct messages. It has been nearly two years since our meeting, and Twitter DMs are still not encrypted, leaving them vulnerable to employees who abuse their internal access to the company's systems, and hackers who gain unauthorized access."
To his credit, Wyden has always been a vocal supporter of encryption. He is an outspoken opponent of the EARN IT Act and has requested that calls between the Senate and House be encrypted.
After last week’s attacks, hopefully other politicians come to similar conclusions on encryption.
- Concerned About Social Media Hijacks? Then Don’t Ban End-to-End Encryption.
- Who Places More Trust in the Government and Social Media Firms? We in the UK Do!
- RSA Survey: Should Governments Regulate Social Media Data Collection?
Cryptocurrency companies criticize on anti-encryption bills
Wyden is not the only critic of anti-encryption stances.
An article in Coindesk recently examined how the EARN IT Act and the Lawful Access to Encrypted Data (LAED) Act would devastate cryptocurrencies. As Benjamin Powers writes:
“Ian Dixon, a Nevada-based programmer who previously mined bitcoin and runs a validator on a privacy-oriented blockchain network, said the bills are repackaged attacks on privacy, just with different language. ‘It doesn’t really seem possible to enforce, but it would essentially make blockchains illegal in general,” said Dixon. “There is no way for ethereum, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to comply.’”
Clearly, the EARN IT and LAED Acts would have profound security consequences on a large number of industries. Social media organizations and cryptocurrencies are just the tip of the iceberg. Security and privacy experts believe that if lawmakers truly want to make the Internet a safer place, they would back away from these bills.
- The EARN IT Act, the Latest Legal Threat to Encryption
- Battle of the Backdoors in Networking Infrastructure: Intentional vs. Incidental
- Going Undetected: How Cybercriminals, Hacktivists, and Nation States Misuse Digital Certificates
- Venafi Survey: The Negative Impact of Government Mandated Encryption Backdoors