By: Tim Starks

ARE BACKDOORS SLAVERY OR NAH? — Should Apple be able to cite the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery the next time the FBI demands that the company help unlock an iPhone? Rep. Ted Poe alluded to that question Monday during an event at Rice University in Houston, asking a panel of largely privacy and tech company officials whether the 13th Amendment’s involuntary servitude clause has “any play” in the encryption debate with “the government forcing a business at their expense to do something proactive.” The Burr-Feinstein draft “is an effort to sort of lay the way for that 13th Amendment issue,” responded Mike Godwin, general counsel of the libertarian R Street Institute. “We do believe that we have the freedom to choose what labor we do.” The draft would compensate parties required to assist the government’s quest for data. “Indentured servants were paid too sometimes, but that turns out not to be consistent with the system,” Godwin said. A full video of the Rice event is posted on Poe’s Facebook page.