Draft legislation that could've forced U.S. corporations like Apple to decrypt data on-demand following a court order won't be formally introduced this year, and has lost the support needed to advance anyway, sources said on Friday.
The bill — backed by Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein — didn't have the support of the Obama administation, the sources told Reuters. Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden in fact claimed that the White House has "dropped anchor and taken down the sail."
Although Burr and Feinstein are the Republican and Democratic heads of the Senate Intelligence Committee, respectively, Committee members from both political aisles have reportedly backed away from the legislation, particularly Democrats. No one in the House ever offered support.
Even the CIA and the NSA have been "ambivalent" about the draft legislation, known as the Compliance with Court Orders Act of 2016, according to Reuters. Although backdoors are a common spying tool, officials with the agencies are said to have been worried that the law would interfere with their own encryption needs.
The Burr-Feinstein bill emerged in the wake of Apple's fight with the Department of Justice and the FBI over unlocking the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. Although the DoJ ultimately withdrew a court order asking Apple to build a workaround for iOS' passcode retry limits, encryption issues had gained more prominence, and indeed many in U.S. law enforcement — such as FBI director James Comey — are still asking for backdoors, worried that encryption is putting some communications beyond their reach.