Big technology companies including Apple and Google and leading cryptologists are urging President Obama to reject any government proposal that alters the security of smartphones and other communications devices so that law enforcement can view decrypted data, reports the Washington Post. A coalition of tech firms, security experts and others are appealing to the White House to protect privacy rights as it considers how to address law enforcement's need to access data that is increasingly encrypted. “Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy's security,” said a letter to the president signed by more than 140 tech companies, prominent technologists and civil society groups.
The letter comes as law enforcement officials warn about the threat to public safety from a loss of access to data and communications. Apple and Google last year announced they were offering forms of smartphone encryption so secure that even law enforcement agencies could not gain access, even with a warrant. “There's no doubt that all of us should care passionately about privacy, but we should also care passionately about protecting innocent people,” FBI Director James Comey said recently. He earlier said he could not understand why companies would “market something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law.”