This week, Rep. Matt Salmon introduced the Protect Our Devices Act. Salmon’s bill comes in response to the FBI’s proposal to use the All Writs Act of 1789 to justify an expansion of its authority.
“The implications of the government’s demands are chilling,” Apple advised customer in February. “If the government can use the All Writs Act to make it easier to unlock your iPhone, it would have the power to reach into anyone’s device to capture their data. The government could extend this breach of privacy and demand that Apple build surveillance software to intercept your messages, access your health records or financial data, track your location, or even access your phone’s microphone or camera without your knowledge.”
“The FBI’s recent attempt to interpret a 1789 law as granting them the power to compel a company to fundamentally undermine their product shocked privacy and intellectual property advocates across our nation,” stated Salmon. “Contrary to the FBI’s assertion, should they get their way, the safety and security of everyday Americans’ data will be compromised. We cannot allow this to happen. The Protect Our Devices Act would make it utterly clear that a 1789 law does not grant the judiciary the authority to coerce companies into hacking their own products. America is better than that.”
Currently, the Justice Department is relying on an unprecedented reading of federal law in an attempt to compel Apple to undermine their proprietary encryption and jeopardize the privacy of their customers, according to Salmon. Salmon argues that the precedent set in this case has a host of implications including a reinterpretation of Americans’ constitutional guarantees to security in their persons, places, and effects.
Salmon’s bill would clarify that the text of the All Writs Act, originally passed as part of the Judiciary Act of 1789, does not apply to encryption.