President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois on Wednesday, nine years to the day after he kicked off his first presidential campaign there, and, just like in 2007, spoke passionately about his desire to reduce the influence of big money in politics.
In 2007, Obama said “The cynics, and the lobbyists, and the special interests [have] turned our government into a game only they can afford to play … they think they own this government, but we’re here today to take it back.”
On Wednesday, Obama told the Illinois legislature, “We have to reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics that makes people feel like the system is rigged.”
This time, of course, Obama is president, and could actually do something about it. There are many actions he could take on his own, without approval from Congress or the courts. In particular, he could issue an executive order requiring federal contractors to disclose any “dark money” contributions to politically active nonprofits.
Obama did mention dark money in his speech, saying that it “drowns out ordinary voices.”
He also mentioned the general concept of taking presidential action on his own, but only for comedic value: “I don’t pretend to have all the answers … If I did I would have already done them through executive action! That was just a joke, guys.”
Activists have delivered over 1 million signatures to the White House demanding that Obama sign an executive order on dark money. A similar petition set up via the White House website’s system passed the 100,000 signatory threshold requiring the Obama administration to respond.
The White House recently posted a desultory answer to the petition that quotes Obama as saying that “We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics” — but doesn’t acknowledge the petition’s demand that Obama, not “we,” take specific action. Kurt Walters, campaign manager at Rootstrikers and one of the petition’s organizers, called the response “offensive to the millions of Americans demanding an end to secret money influencing elections.”
In retrospect, Obama’s speech nine years ago was full of foreshadowing. “I understand the skepticism,” he said. “After all, every four years, candidates from both parties make similar promises … But too many times, after the election is over, and the confetti is swept away, all those promises fade from memory, and the lobbyists and the special interests move in, and people turn away, disappointed as before, left to struggle on their own.”
- Obama Could Fix Dark Money, But Would Rather Just Yell at Republicans About It
- Forty Years of Democrats Talking About How Much They Want to Get Money Out of Politics
The post Obama Celebrates Nine Years of Doing Nothing About Money in Politics appeared first on The Intercept.
Deutschland macht sich zusammen mit der Türkei für den Einsatz von NATO-Schiffen zum Kampf gegen Schleuserbanden in der Ägäis stark. Verteidigungsministerin Ursula von der Leyen (CDU) sagte am Mittwoch zu Beginn eines NATO-Treffens in Brüssel: „Ziel muss es sein, das perfide Geschäft der Schmuggler und der illegalen Migration zu erschweren – wenn nicht unmöglich zu machen.“ Wie die neue Mission konkret aussehen könnte, muss noch geklärt werden.
Die Pläne gehen auf das Treffen von Bundeskanzlerin Angela Merkel und dem türkischen Ministerpräsidenten Ahmet Davutoglu am Montag in Ankara zurück. Die Türkei ist wichtigster Zufluchtsort und auch wichtigstes Transitland für Flüchtlinge aus Syrien.
Rund fünf Jahre nach der Atomkatastrophe im japanischen Fukushima hat sich die Lage in der Atomruine nach Ansicht des Betreiberkonzerns Tepco „stabilisiert“. Die Bedingungen auf dem Gelände der Anlage seien „wirklich stabil“, versicherte der Leiter des zerstörten AKW, Akira Ono, am Mittwoch bei einer Besichtigungstour für eine Gruppe ausländischer Journalisten. Die Arbeiten zur Stilllegung seien zu „rund zehn Prozent“ bewältigt, sagte der Tepco-Manager. Die vollständige Stilllegung wird schätzungsweise noch dreißig bis vierzig Jahre dauern. Die größte Herausforderung sei die Bergung der geschmolzenen Brennstäbe in den zerstörten Reaktoren, über deren Verbleib noch keine volle Klarheit herrsche, sagte Ono.
Am 11. März 2011
I CAN’T CLAIM this is a neutral review of Where to Invade Next, Michael Moore’s latest movie. Beyond the fact that I worked for Moore for six years, including on his previous documentary Capitalism: A Love Story, I may literally owe my life to the high-quality, zero-deductible health insurance he provides employees.
What I’ve lost in objectivity, I’ve gained in knowledge of Moore’s career. I even know his darkest, most closely guarded secret: the original name of the 1970s alternative newspaper he started in Flint, Michigan. So I can say this for sure: Where to Invade Next is the most profoundly subversive thing he’s ever done. It’s so sneaky that you may not even notice exactly what it’s subverting.
On its surface, Where to Invade Next seems to be a cheerful travelogue as Moore enjoys an extended vacation, “invading” a passel of European countries plus Tunisia to steal their best ideas and bring them back home to America. For instance, French public schools have chefs who serve students hour-long, multi-course lunches on china, featuring dishes like scallops in curry sauce. I haven’t laughed harder at any movie this year than when the French 8-year-olds stare in perplexed horror at photos of American school lunches.
It’s all so upbeat in such an un-Michael Moore way that he considered calling it Mike’s Happy Movie. Certainly it’s the only time I’ve walked out of one of his documentaries and said, “Wow, everything is fantastic!” But what made me feel this way is the secret message hidden in Where to Invade Next — and if you see it, you’ll feel that way too.Moore’s biggest foe ever
To understand what I’m talking about, look at the trajectory of Moore’s major films, and how he consistently became more ambitious. With every movie he’s raised the stakes, each time aiming at a bigger institution and its claims that it knows best and is totally serious and in control and definitely nobody should laugh at it. Here’s the progression:
- Roger & Me in 1989 was an attack on General Motors when it was the largest corporation on earth, and suggested that GM’s decision to brutalize its workers, customers, and hometown might not be the greatest long-term strategy. (You’ve probably noticed this turned out to be true.)
- Bowling for Columbine’s target in 2002 was even larger than GM: It wasn’t just about America’s constant gun massacres, but our omnipresent culture of fear that makes us hostile to any possible solutions.
- Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 aimed higher again: It was about the reality that the president of the United States might be illegitimate, definitely had no idea what he was doing, and everyone was terrified to point any of this out.
- In 2007 Sicko critiqued something even more important than the presidency: healthcare, America’s biggest, cruelest industry.
- Finally, in 2009, Moore reached what seemed like the logical summit of his career with Capitalism: A Love Story, pointing out that our entire economic system seems to be broken.
So where could anyone go from there? Once you’ve done capitalism, it’s hard to imagine there’s any larger nemesis. But as Where to Invade Next demonstrates, there is.America’s real ideology
About halfway through Where to Invade Next, Moore visits an island prison in Norway that houses inmates who’ve committed violent crimes but are being rewarded for good behavior. It looks less like Oz and more like a frugal resort, with prisoners in regular clothes doing wheelies on bikes, fishing, and sunbathing.
In the prison’s kitchen, Moore talks to Trond, a convicted murderer with a huge tattoo on his face. Looking past him, Moore says: “Uh, I can’t help but notice that behind you are a whole bunch of very sharp knives.” And in fact there are a dozen of them, including a gigantic cleaver.
There also appear to be zero guards. Trond explains how many guards are at the prison on weekends: four. That’s for a prison population of 115. Plus, he says, the guards generally all stay in another building, leaving the prisoners to supervise themselves.
For most Americans, including me, this looks completely insane. But the prison warden, sitting at a park bench with birds chirping in the background, explains: “I don’t understand why you think this is a strange idea. … The main idea is just to take away their freedom. That’s the only punishment we are giving them. We are trying to help them back to society.”
The Norwegian philosophy is to create a normal environment with as few external controls as possible so that when prisoners get out, they know how to control themselves. It works so well that Norway has one of the world’s lowest murder rates, and its recidivism rate is about 20 percent, two to three times lower than in the U.S. (Moore also visits a standard Norwegian maximum security prison that’s less spa-like but totally free of the brutality and spiritual darkness of U.S. prisons.)
Moore’s visit to Portugal is also about its prison system, or rather its lack of one comparable to the U.S., thanks to its total decriminalization of drugs in 2001. Dr. Nuno Capaz, the Portuguese minister of health, classifies himself as a drug user: “Mostly alcohol, internet, a lot of coffee, some sugar.” When Moore points out that drug abuse may bring a lot of sadness to someone’s marriage, Capaz responds, “So? So does Facebook. Are we going to illegalize it?” The results in Portugal have been just as counterintuitive for Americans as Norway’s results, with drug use actually falling now that you can’t get arrested for it.
By the end of Where to Invade Next — after seeing working-class Italians with two months paid vacation, Finnish schools with no homework and the world’s best test scores, Slovenians going to college for free, and women seizing unprecedented power in Tunisia and Iceland — you may realize that the entire movie is about how other countries have dismantled the prisons in which Americans live: prison-like schools and workplaces, debtor’s prisons in order to pay for college, prisons of social roles for women, and the mental prison of refusing to face our own history.
You’ll also perceive clearly why we’ve built these prisons. It’s because the core ideology of the United States isn’t capitalism, or American exceptionalism, but something even deeper: People are bad. People are so bad that they have to be constantly controlled and threatened with punishment, and if they get a moment of freedom they’ll go crazy and ruin everything.
The secret message of Where to Invade Next is that America’s had it wrong all along about human beings. You and I aren’t bad. All the people around us aren’t bad. It’s okay to get high, or get sick, or for teenagers to spend every waking moment trying to figure out how to bonk each other. If regular people get control over their own lives, they’ll use it wisely rather than burning the country down in a festival of mindless debauchery.
Where to Invade Next is all the more powerful because it doesn’t tell you this, it simply shows you. It’s not speculation about how human nature will be transformed after the revolution so we’ll all be happy to share our ration of grass soup with The People. It’s all happening right now, with imperfect human beings just like us.
The movie ends with Moore visiting the remnants of the Berlin Wall, and remembering how he’d been there in 1989 and joined with all the German chiseling away at it. When he was growing up during the Cold War, he says, the one certain thing was that “This wall would never come down. Built to stand forever. Impenetrable.” But less than 30 years later it was gone. What America’s President of Documentaries is saying now is: Tear down these walls. We will be much better off without them.
The post “Where to Invade Next” Is the Most Subversive Movie Michael Moore Has Ever Made appeared first on The Intercept.
A large peace heart has ceased to beat. Andreas Büro, one of the mentors of the German peace movement, has passed away at the age of 87. He was active in the peace movement for the last 50 years, with the Easter marches being associated with his name since their inception, and countless large and small actions. He was a leader in the large demonstrations of the 1980s and was active until his death in the peace initiatives of Taunus, his home town. His scientific work, theoretical considerations and his practical work influenced diverse peace movements of very different political and social tendencies. An undogmatic leftist (his own description) and a person of great charisma, he worked on many inspirational initiatives to promote civilian conflict resolution. The relevant dossiers of Cooperation for Peace (German umbrella group) will be linked forever with his name. Until recently, he was developing ideas for a peaceful solution via the project: ‘Ukraine: a bridge between East and West’ which was a campaign for cooperation, and one of the last projects he pursued. He will forever be remembered as a man of good conversation, togetherness and mutual learning. He will be sorely missed. We shall have to continue the work without him, but in his spirit.
The budget proposal released by the Obama administration Tuesday seeks to roll back restrictions Congress has placed on foreign aid to Egypt’s military regime and the sale of crowd control weapons to “emerging democracies.”
Under current law, 15 percent of aid to Egypt is subject to being withheld based on human rights conditions — although even that can be waived if it is deemed to be in the national security interest of the United States, as it was last year.
Cole Bockenfeld, deputy director for policy at the Project on Middle East Democracy, says the administration probably doesn’t want to go to the trouble of justifying its waiver this year. “They had to basically do an assessment. … Here’s how they’re doing on political prisoners, here’s how they’re doing on freedom of assembly, and so on,” Bockenfeld explains. Last year’s report “infuriated the Egyptians … it was a pretty honest assessment of how things had deteriorated in Egypt.”
The assessment, for instance, took the Egyptians to task for the “impunity” their security forces operate under and restrictions on due process.
“I think what they’re trying to do is avoid a repeat of that scenario,” concludes Bockenfeld. “Because that upset the Egyptians as much as it did, we’d rather handle those things privately.”
“Typically the administration always wants as much freedom of action as possible, it wants the fewest legislative restrictions as possible on assistance programs,” says Michele Dunne of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Also in the administration’s budget is a request to remove a provision that prohibits the transfers of tear gas and other crowd control weapons to countries that are “undergoing democratic transition.”
Bockenfeld says that this is a provision that’s been in U.S. law since 2012, a reaction to the Arab Spring protests.
If the administration successfully rolls back the crowd control provision, “It’s basically going to be free for all,” says Husain Abdulla, executive director of Americans for Democracy and Human Rights in Bahrain. Among the countries seeking these devices from the U.S. are Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain, Abdulla says. “You cannot call for democracy in one region of the world then supply another region with equipment that is used to suppress people who are peacefully asking for their universal rights.”
Top photo: Egyptian security personnel stand guard on January 25, 2016, the anniversary of the original pro-democracy protests.
The post Obama Proposes Removing Human Rights Conditions on Aid to Egypt appeared first on The Intercept.
THE AMBULANCE, a white, ramshackle Land Cruiser, rattled along the bumpy road in Saada City, in the far north of Yemen, on its way to answer an emergency call. When the driver, 35-year-old Abdulmalik Amer, arrived at the scene in the Dhayan district, 12 miles from the city, he found a collapsed house with four inhabitants trapped inside — victims of a Saudi airstrike.
For Amer, the father of two young children, January 21 was a typical day of work as an ambulance driver. It was also his last.
The ambulance was ripped to shreds, killing everyone on board, as well as those who had congregated to help. Women and children nearby were seen stumbling away.
When civilians gathered to help the injured, another airstrike came down. At least 26 people were killed and 48 injured in the series of strikes, which was caught on camera.
Yemen has been bombarded by a Saudi-led air campaign for over 10 months now. The Saudi government says the attacks are targeting the Houthis, the rebel group that ousted Yemen’s president and Riyadh ally Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
The military campaign has taken a heavy toll on the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, creating what U.N. officials are calling an unprecedented humanitarian disaster.
Michael Seawright, who served as MSF’s project coordinator in Yemen, said that the MSF-run emergency department in Saada City often received patients who had traveled four or five hours for treatment, because it was the only hospital with emergency surgical capacity in the province. “People would come in missing feet, hands, and with severe abdominal and head trauma,” he said.
Despite over a decade of work in war zones, including in Syria, Seawright said, “I have never seen such destruction conducted in such a short period as in Yemen.”
The attacks that killed Amer were also the fourth time in less than three months that medical workers associated with the international aid group MSF have come under Saudi attack. “This latest loss of a colleague is devastating, and it demonstrates the ruthlessness with which health care is coming under attack in Yemen,” said Teresa Sancristóval, emergency coordinator at MSF, in a statement issued a day after the Dhayan attack.
MSF said the first airstrike targeting one of the hospitals it supports in Yemen took place in the Haydan district on October 27. The attack left around 200,000 people without access to life-saving medical care. “This attack is another illustration of a complete disregard for civilians in Yemen, where bombings have become a daily routine,” said Hassan Boucenine, MSF’s head of mission in Yemen, following the Haydan strike.
Earlier this year, on January 10, an emergency room established by MSF near Yemen’s border with Saudi Arabia was bombed, just three months after becoming operational.
Yemen has been referred to as the forgotten war. Despite criticism from U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who has condemned the airstrikes that have damaged “schools, hospitals, mosques, and civilian infrastructure,” the U.S. and U.K. governments have continued to provide the Saudi campaign with weapons as well as logistical and intelligence support. In January, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, emphasized the presence of U.S. and U.K. personnel in the “command and control center.” “They know what the target list is and they have a sense of what it is that we are doing and what we are not doing,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said that Washington will “stand with our friends in Saudi Arabia,” and Philip Hammond, U.K. secretary of state for foreign and commonwealth affairs, confirmed that U.K. personnel in Saudi Arabia are ensuring that “only legitimate military targets are struck.” In response to a question from the shadow foreign secretary on the possible use of U.K. arms exports on civilian targets, Hammond said, “So far, in every case, our people on the ground have reported that there is no evidence of deliberate breaches of international humanitarian law.”
Sheila Carapico, a University of Richmond professor and expert on politics in Yemen and the Arabian Peninsula, disagreed with this assessment, arguing that the U.S. and U.K. should halt arms sales because “these munitions are being deployed in the commission of war crimes.”
Instead of trying to protect civilians by calling for a ceasefire, she said, Washington is selling Saudi Arabia precision weapons to replace U.S.-made cluster bombs. This policy amounts to an ineffectual “nod towards protection of innocent civilians,” Carapico added.
In the meantime, the death count in Yemen continues to grow and nearly every Yemeni has a story of a family member or friend killed in an airstrike. Before he died, Amer, the ambulance driver, had a story of death to tell his colleagues every day, said Muhammed Hajr, director of the Jumhuriya Hospital.
Amer was known for traveling routes that others were too afraid to drive; Saudi airstrikes often hit after rescuers gather to help survivors of an initial attack, making it particularly dangerous for ambulance drivers. He had survived a number of bombings similar to the one that led to his death.
On June 5, he narrowly escaped such a strike, suffering shrapnel wounds to his arm.
Hajr said that Amer would often help in the emergency room, stitching wounds and giving injections to the injured. He even attended to the dead.
“Before he would put corpses into the morgue, he would make sure to wipe off blood stains from their faces,” said Hajr. When asked why he did that, Amer would say, “So that their relatives can at least see them without blood on their faces.”
After Amer’s death, the hospital is without its best driver. “There was a bombing today,” Hajr said, “and everyone was expecting Abdulmalik to show up.”
The post Last Call: The Life and Death of an Ambulance Driver in Yemen appeared first on The Intercept.
Bernie Sanders won an overwhelming victory in the New Hampshire Democratic presidential primary, capturing nearly every demographic group and 60 percent of the vote. The insurgent democratic socialist from Vermont, however, was not celebrated in some quarters of Washington, D.C., as a number of lobbyists and business political consultants took to Twitter to complain.
Tony Fratto, the co-founder of Hamilton Place Strategies, a political consulting firm that has previously represented a variety of Wall Street interests including recent work to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement on behalf of large corporations, tweeted in disapproval of Sanders’s rhetoric against the excesses of Wall Street:
No one who attacks other Americans — like @BernieSanders's attacks on our financial sector — deserves to be President.
— Tony Fratto (@TonyFratto) February 10, 2016
Alex Castellanos, a co-founder of lobbying and consulting firm Purple Strategies, and executive with National Media, a political media agency that works with Super PACs and industry groups to develop advertising, disparaged Sanders’s victory speech as an “anti-American rant”:
.@SenSanders = naive foolishness of youth wrapped in veneer of old age and wisdom. sad his anti-american rant is applauded by americans
— Alex Castellanos (@alexcast) February 10, 2016
John Feehery, a lobbyist for AT&T, Sony, Qualcomm, Zurich Financial Services, among others, tweeted:
This speech is Castro-like in its length.
— John Feehery (@JohnFeehery) February 10, 2016
Rory Cooper, a managing director at Purple Strategies, was somewhat apocalyptic in his reaction:
Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. It's been a good run America.
— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) February 10, 2016
Jason Boxt, who runs the research division for the Glover Park Group, a lobbying
and public relations firm, advised restraint:
Levelheaded people need to chill out about Trump and Sanders winning in NH. We've known they were going to win for six months.
— Research Jason (@jboxt1) February 10, 2016
CR Wooters, a Democratic lobbyist at the firm Mehlman Castagnetti, had sympathy for the night’s biggest losers:
I think I might start a SuperPAC to defend those people being attacked the most tonight…. lobbyist. #MakeLobbyingGreatAgain
— CR Wooters (@crwooters) February 10, 2016
The post Lobbyists, Consultants Fret Over Bernie Sanders Victory appeared first on The Intercept.
Die Bundeswehr versucht mit ihrer 10,6 Millio- nen teuren Werbeoffensive „Mach was wirklich zählt“ erneut, junge Leute zu rekrutieren. Sie drängt in Bildungseinrichtungen, ist immer selbstverständlicher präsent in Schulen, Kitas, auf Jobmessen und auf Großereignissen wie dem Hafengeburtstag. Sie will als ganz normaler Arbeitgeber wahrgenommen werden und die Militarisierung der Gesellschaft weiter vorantreiben.
Dafür wirbt die Bundeswehr mit Abenteuer und Nervenkitzel, mit schlauen Sprüchen massiv an öffentlichen Orten, wie Bahnhöfen, wie „Wir kämpfen auch dafür, dass du gegen uns sein kannst“, „Hier kämpfst Du für Deine Patienten. Nicht für den Profit.“ oder „Bei uns geht es ums Weiterkommen, nicht ums Stillstehen“ und „Grünzeug ist auch s´gesund für deine Karriere“.
Die Bundeswehr spricht gezielt junge Frauen an und blendet gekonnt aus, dass sich die Jugendlichen bei ihr für viele Jahre verpflichten müssen, während Auslandeinsätze und das Töten auf der Tagesordnung stehen. 55% der Frauen in der Bundeswehr gaben 2014 an, dass sie sexuell belästigt wurden. Knapp 1700 Soldaten haben sich wegen posttraumatischer Belastungsstörungen 2014 bei der Bundeswehr in Behandlung gegeben. 26% der Soldaten stuften sich selbst als rechts ein. Von den Dunkelziffern ganz zu schweigen. Deutschland entsendet aktuell bis zu 1.200 Bundeswehrsoldaten in den Kampf gegen den IS nach Syrien – damit laufen derzeit 17 Auslandeinsätze. Obwohl der Irak- und Afghanistankrieg uns so unweigerlich verdeutlicht haben, dass mit Kriegseinsätzen der weltweit vorherrschenden Länder der Terrorismus nur genährt wird und Länder noch stärker zerrüttet werden.
Deutschland führt Krieg, nicht zuletzt um Handelswege und Rohstoffquellen zu sichern. Allianzen werden je nach Stimmungslage und Machtgefüge gebildet – egal, ob sich die Partner der Demokratie verschrieben haben oder die zukünftigen Terroristen sind.
Das Kollektiv peng machte mit einer Gegenkampagne bereits im letzten Jahr auf die Absurdität dieser neuen Werbekampagne aufmerksam:
BoB verteilte Postkarten mit dem Slogan: „Mach was wirklich zählt – Bundeswehr wegtreten“ in Hamburger Kneipen.
Komm‘ zu unseren Treffen und mach was wirklich zählt: Engagier‘ dich in der antimilitaristischen Bewegung!
Lass‘ uns dem Krieg der Mächtigen entgegentreten!
Unser Protest ist wichtig!
Reps. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., and Blake Farenthold, R-Tex., are challenging state-level proposals to restrict Americans’ ability to encrypt their phones. They say states shouldn’t preempt Congress and the White House by legislating against encryption while a national debate is ongoing.
Lieu, one of four members of Congress with a computer science degree, partnered with Farenthold, a member of both the House Oversight and House Judiciary Committees, to introduce a bill on Wednesday—the “ENCRYPT Act of 2016”—that would stop states from individually trying to make companies change their technology to suit law enforcement needs.
New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is one of many law enforcement officials arguing that their ability to obtain evidence on criminals’ devices—most often cell phones— is becoming impossible, because only the owner of that device can unlock it. Not even the company holds onto a copy of the passcode.
FBI Director James Comey said during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday that locked phones are “overwhelmingly affecting local law enforcement.”
But technologists are practically unanimous in agreeing that forcing technology companies to provide anything less than the strongest encryption — for instance by compelling them to provide some sort of backdoor so law enforcement can access unencrypted communications — leads to undue risk that criminal hackers will be able to abuse those new vulnerabilities.
Lieu, in an interview, said law enforcement should be more concerned about its own cybersecurity practices than about limiting what’s available to the public. “When the Department of Justice and FBI were hacked, it put to rest the notion of having a backdoor in encryption,” Lieu said, referring to this week’s hacker release of DOJ and DHS employee records.
The new bill, supported by the App Association, the Niskanen Center, the Internet Technology Industry Council, and the Internet Association, comes on the heels of two proposed state level bills—in California and New York— attempting to ban certain types of phone encryption.
The New York bill, first proposed last year and reintroduced in January, would require that all smartphones sold in New York “be capable of being decrypted” either by the manufacturer or the owners of the operating system. A California legislator followed suit, introducing a bill to outlaw the sale of phones with full disk encryption, which makes it impossible to access the contents without the passcode.
Legal and technological experts have said the two bills are unlikely to pass as is, because they’re flawed, possibly impossible to implement, and potentially illegal. But the New York proposal could come up for a vote this year, and has support from Vance.
States shouldn’t make that call, the congressmen argue. “As Congress explores the appropriate response to encryption technology, a new and destabilizing front has opened up as state legislators have taken measures into their own hands,” Lieu and Farenthold wrote in a letter to their colleagues in Congress.
“We are deeply concerned that a patchwork system with different encryption requirements in every state would not only undermine national security—it would also threaten the competitiveness of American companies and dampen innovation.”
Ryan Hagemann, a technology and civil liberties policy analyst for the libertarian Niskanen Center, wrote in an email to The Intercept that federal preemption makes sense in this case. “The ENCRYPT Act won’t put a nail in the coffin of the ongoing encryption debate, but it will help forestall some of the bad legislation we see coming out of states like California and New York,” he wrote.
“Adding to the complexity of this debate by permitting a schizophrenic patchwork of legal regimes at the state level is not a good policy prescription.”