Twitter, Dropbox and others petition Obama to support encryption, oppose backdoors

A petition launched today by Twitter, Dropbox, civil liberties groups and others calls on President Obama to support encryption and reject mandates that would give the government backdoors access to online users’ personal information.

“Weakening encryption weakens the entire Internet,” the group writes on the petition’s website, The group, which includes the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is referring to the complaints by law enforcement, government and spying types about encryption.

If all this sounds familiar, that’s because many of these same groups have contacted Obama before about this issue. Apple, Google, Facebook and nearly 150 other advocacy group sent a letter to the president in May, urging him to take a position on the push for backdoors. He has not. This time around, the White House would have to respond if the petition gathers at least 100,000 signatures.

The tech world has stepped up its encryption efforts since the 2013 Edward Snowden leaks revealed mass NSA spying that among other things involved gathering Americans’ information from the online services they use — in the name of fighting terrorism. For example, Apple and Google turn on encryption on their smartphones by default. That has led people such as FBI Director James Comey to complain to lawmakers that encryption is making his agency’s job harder.

But advocates for strong encryption and no backdoors say online users’ privacy and security are at stake. Alex Stamos, a former Yahoo executive who’s now chief security officer at Facebook, said earlier this year that building “defects” into tech products could possibly mean letting other governments have access to precious information.

What might President Obama do about the increasing pressure to take a public stance on this issue? He has criticized a Chinese government plan to require tech backdoors. But he also has referred to tech companies as “patriots” that he bets would be willing to help the government in its anti-terrorism efforts.


Photo of President Obama by Associated Press


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  • Seattle_bound

    The bottom line question here is this: Do you want Terrorists to have the ability to encrypt coded messages as to where they will strike next?

    • AwesomeSauce

      The bottom line question here is this: Do you want Terrorists to have
      the ability to hold meetings, and plan where they will strike next, in their own homes? Maybe we should let them bug every home in the US and listen to everything we have to say.

      Giving up personal freedom and security is more of a problem than terrorists sending encrypted messages.

  • Peter Miller

    Unlikely that the US Government will ever change their view on back doors etc. #origolo