Congress

Lawmakers launch encryption working group

Capitol dome under renovation, July 22, 2015

A bipartisan group of House members are forming a working group to focus on legislative issues around encryption.

The House Judiciary Committee and the Energy and Commerce Committee tapped eight members to serve on the group: Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis), Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), Suzan DelBene (D-Wa.), Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)  and Joe Kennedy (D-MA).

They will be meeting with stakeholders and subject matter experts regularly with the goal of coming up with solutions by the end of this year, according to a House spokesperson. There will not be any official hearings, but the group will propose recommendations for possible policy solutions to striking the balance between privacy and the tools law enforcement needs during their investigations.

"In the last few weeks, we've heard a lot of debate over privacy and encryption, security and backdoors," Issa said in a statement. "I am honored to be a part of this working group so that lawmakers, on all sides of the issue, can get together to talk about the best path forward to protect the privacy and security of our personal information in the digital age that is the 21st century."

Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and John Conyers (D-MI), the House Judiciary Committee's chairman and ranking member, respectively, will serve as ex officio members of the group. They said the group members will "work toward finding solutions that allow law enforcement agencies to fulfill their responsibility without harming the competitiveness of the U.S. technology sector or the privacy and security that encryption provides for U.S. citizens."

A separate effort from Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Senate's Select Committee on Intelligence, calls for the creation of a commission of experts in technology, cryptography, law enforcement, intelligence, privacy, global commerce and national security. In addition, the top lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee are working on an encryption bill which will be released soon to tackle the same problems. 

About the Author

Aisha Chowdhry is a former staff writer for FCW.


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