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Over 140 technology experts, civil society groups and major companies including Google and Apple have signed a letter to Barack Obama, urging the president to reject any government proposal that would grant law enforcement access to encrypted phone data, reports the Telegraph.
Google and Apple have both made major steps towards encrypting their services in recent years, stepping up their email and default smartphone security respectively. Following the recent changes by Apple, police organizations would need an iPhone’s passcode to access its data even if they had a warrant.
While members of the Obama administration have complained that such encryption could create an obstacle in tracking dangerous criminals, the technology industry coalition – including more than 40 major companies – argues that creating a loophole for law enforcement could make devices vulnerable to cyber attacks.
“We urge you to reject any proposal that U.S. companies deliberately weaken the security of their products,” said the letter, which was obtained by the Washington Post.
“We request that the White House instead focus on developing policies that will promote rather than undermine the wide adoption of strong encryption technology. Such policies will in turn help to promote and protect cybersecurity, economic growth, and human rights, both here and abroad.”
Government surveillance has been high on the political agenda in recent years, after whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the extent that phone data was being monitored by the National Security Agency (NSA) in 2013. Earlier this month, the mass collection of American phone records and metadata by the NSA was ruled illegal by a US appeals court, as reported by We Live Security.
Author Kyle Ellison, ESET