Obama administration won’t call for weakening encryption yet

President Obama has finally taken a public stance on encryption and backdoors — but for now it won’t change a thing.

There has been a push to compel tech companies to weaken the security of their products so the government and law enforcement can access users’ information as needed. For example, FBI Director James Comey has complained that tech companies’ recent privacy and security efforts — such as Apple and Google enabling encryption by default on their mobile devices — in the wake of the NSA spying revelations are a pain for his agency.

The Obama administration has been under pressure to address the issue. As we wrote last week, a coalition of tech companies such as Twitter and Dropbox, civil liberties groups and others started a petition asking the president to reject measures that would mandate the weakening of encryption and the installation of backdoors. Other groups have since joined the call to “save crypto,” including Tech Freedom and the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Now, the Washington Post reports that Comey told a Senate committee Thursday that the administration will not look for a legislative solution yet but instead continue to try to talk tech companies into cooperating. According to the Post, Comey said the tech executives with whom the FBI and Justice Department have been discussing the issue “are all people who care about the safety of America and also care about privacy and civil liberties,” and that negotiations have been “increasingly productive.” This sounds familiar, because as we’ve noted, President Obama has referred to tech companies as “patriots” that would be willing to help the government fight terrorism.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, an online rights advocate based in San Francisco, called the Obama stance a partial victory.

“If Obama wants to leave a legacy promoting innovation and consumer privacy, he should create a clear policy position opposing secret, and sometimes informal, agreements between the government and tech companies to undermine security and privacy,” writes Rainey Reitman, activism director for the EFF, in a statement on the foundation’s website.

Opponents of introducing security weaknesses into products point to the risks that could let others (besides the government and law enforcement types who supposedly have good intentions) access tech users’ information.

 

Photo: President Obama in 2014. (Associated Press)

 

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  • CALMLIKEABOMB

    This is surprising….Obama usually jumps all over ILLEGAL ACTIONS!!!!

 
 
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