‘Path to hell starts at the backdoor,’ Microsoft president warns at RSA

Microsoft President Brad Smith, siding with Apple in its battle with the FBI over unlocking a terrorist’s iPhone, warned in a speech at a security conference in San Francisco Tuesday that the industry needs to stand together to protect its encryption technology.

“We need to keep in mind when it comes to security that there is no technology more important than encryption,” Smith told a packed audience at RSA 2016, the security industry’s annual conference.

“That’s why we need to stand up and be vocal. The path to hell starts at the back door. We need to make sure that encryption technology remains strong,” he said.

Microsoft is filing a brief supporting Apple in its battle with the FBI, which wants Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the two terrorists who killed 14 health department workers in an attack in San Bernardino on Dec. 2. The attackers, a married couple named Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, were killed in a shootout with police after the attack. The FBI says it needs Apple’s help to see the contents of Farook’s mobile phone.

“There may be no part of the debate that is more important than encryption,” Smith said. “As an industry we have a responsibility to help keep public safe. That’s one of the points that Apple is making in Congress today.”

Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell is expected to tell a Congressional committee today that making a tool to unlock the terrorist’s phone would jeopardize the privacy of hundreds of millions of users.

Calling trust “the foundation for our entire industry,” Smith warned that “we cannot people keep people safe in the real world if we cannot keep them safe on the internet…People will not use technology they do not trust.”

Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, has vowed to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Photo: iPhone held up in front of the Apple logo. (AFP/Getty Images)


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  • Another Cramer

    Is some portion of the Govt. seeking to destroy all technology and return us to the stone ages?
    If the FBI is successful, it might destroy all tech we use Today. It would certainly destroy the stock value of all tech companies. Financial institutions would then return to mailing out monthly statements IF the USPS can even stay in business. The FBI would destroy business models throughout the US economy with the AWA.
    Imagine the potential shareholder lawsuits for destroying investment value.
    The FBI demonstrates to the world it’s incompetence by not even understanding the issues.