Senate bill crafted with DEA targets end-to-end encryption

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Aug 17, 2017
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A bill requiring social media companies, encrypted communications providers and other online services to report drug activity on their platforms to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) advanced to the Senate floor Thursday. The bipartisan Cooper Davis Act — named for a Kansas teenager who died after unknowingly taking a fentanyl-laced pill he bought on Snapchat — requires social media companies and other web communication providers to give the DEA users’ names and other information when the companies have “actual knowledge” that illicit drugs are being distributed on their platforms.

Many privacy advocates caution that, if passed in its current form, the bill could be a death blow to end-to-end encryption services because it includes particularly controversial language holding companies accountable for conduct they don’t report if they “deliberately blind” themselves to the violations. “They could maintain end-to-end encryption and risk liability that they had willfully blinded themselves to illegal content on their service and face the music later,” Nojeim said. “Or they could opt to remove end-to-end encryption and subject all of their users who used to be protected by one of the best cybersecurity tools available to new threats and new privacy violations.”
 

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