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In the aftermath of last week’s Paris attacks a number of Governments and intelligence agencies around the world have again called for weakened encryption or backdoor access to allow them to monitor civilian communications. In response, a leading coalition of US-based technology groups has issued a statement supporting the continued use of encryption.
The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), which contains over 60 tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Microsoft, said it opposes “any policy actions or measures that would undermine encryption as an available and effective tool.”
"After a horrific tragedy like the Paris attacks, we naturally search for solutions: weakening encryption is not a solution," said Dean Garfield, president of the Washington-based organization.
Government authorities have said that the increasing popularity of encrypted email and messaging platforms, such as iMessage or WhatsApp, means they struggle to monitor criminal suspects and uncover terrorist plots, according to Reuters. But despite early reports that those responsible for the Paris attacks relied on encryption, no hard evidence has emerged that they used any kind of secure messaging service.
The ITI claims that weakening encryption would lead to more dangers and expose private information to hackers.
"Encryption is a security tool we rely on every day to stop criminals from draining our bank accounts, to shield our cars and airplanes from being taken over by malicious hacks, and to otherwise preserve our security and safety,” Garfield said.
“We deeply appreciate law enforcement's and the national security community's work to protect us, but weakening encryption or creating backdoors to encrypted devices and data for use by the good guys would actually create vulnerabilities to be exploited by the bad guys, which would almost certainly cause serious physical and financial harm across our society and our economy. Weakening security with the aim of advancing security simply does not make sense."
In the UK, prime minister David Cameron has often spoken of his desire for telecommunication companies to weaken their encryption, and once said he would push for a ban on encrypted messaging services such as WhatsApp.