More than 140 of the nation’s top technology firms and cryptologists have sent a letter to the White House urging President Obama to strike down any and all proposals that would provide law enforcement with a backdoor into encrypted communications devices such as smartphones.
Apple, Facebook, Google, HP, Microsoft and Yahoo are just a few of the major technology companies that appear on the document. Three of the five members of Obama’s presidential review group also signed the letter.
The letter notes that strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security, adding that it protects billion of people every day from countless threats – be they street criminals, computer criminals, corporate spies, repressive governments or foreign intelligence agencies.
The protection it offers would be undermined by mandatory insertion of any new vulnerabilities into encrypted devices and services. What’s more, the letter points out that intentional backdoors would further push international buyers away from American products, harming the nation's overall economy.
The letter is largely in response to comments from FBI Director James B. Comey. During a recent roundtable with reporters, Comey said there’s no doubt that all of us should care passionately about privacy but we should also care passionately about protecting innocent people.
As The Washington Post points out, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have expressed skepticism on the issue with Congress unlikely to pass such legislation.