- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2016

After this week’s Apple ruling, the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee plans a significant escalation in the fight between the government and technology firms over cybersecurity, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The Journal reported Thursday afternoon, citing “four people familiar with the matter,” that Sen. Richard Burr, North Carolina Republican, is working on a bill to criminalize a company’s refusal to decipher encrypted communications.

However, Rebecca Watkins, Mr. Burr’s communications director, said the report was wrong on at least one detail, telling The Washington Times in an email that “Chairman Burr is not considering criminal penalties in his draft encryption proposals.”

The proposal, other details of which were not immediately available, comes two days after a federal court in California sided with the FBI in its efforts to force Apple Inc. to help it access the cellular phone of one of the San Bernardino jihadist killers.

However, Apple, with the quick backing of other technology giants such as Google and Mozilla, said it would fight the court order, arguing that it cannot create a “back door” for law enforcement without making everyone’s phone hackable by criminal enterprises.

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