Apple, Google, Cryptologists Plea to Obama: Support Encryption

Nearly 150 organizations, notable tech companies, prominent cryptologists are joining forces to reach out to President Obama today, asking to reject proposals to weaken security on their products and services.

Technology companies, human rights organizations, privacy organizations, trade associations, security experts and plenty more came together in writing a letter to President Obama, urging him to “reject any proposal that U.S. companies deliberately weaken the security of their products. We request that the White House instead focus on developing policies that will promote rather than undermine the wide adoption of strong encryption technology. Such policies will in turn help to promote and protect cybersecurity, economic growth, and human rights, both here and abroad.”

The importance of Encryption

Encryption is fundamental in aiding users and citizens’ privacy in the modern world. Online banking, stock trading, email, even the doctor’s office as well as popular social networks such as Facebook require encryption, to form a stronghold for privacy.

The letter, obtained by the Washington Post, stresses that that  “strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security,” and that the government should “fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards [nor] in any way subvert, undermine, weaken or make vulnerable” commercial software.

The Threat to Encryption

Modern law enforcement is pushing President Obama to introduce ‘back-doors’ which inevitably weakens the encryption in the product or service.

“Whether you call them ‘front doors’ or ‘back doors’, introducing intentional vulnerabilities into secure products for the government’s use will make those products less secure against other attackers,” reads the letter which is signed by prominent tech companies including Facebook, Cisco, Apple, Google, Dropbox, Microsoft, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Twitter, the Wikimedia Foundation among others. 37 civil liberties groups and privacy advocates also signed, along with the most respected security experts around.

At Loggerheads

Recently, Apple made big news in an announcement, saying that its iOS 8 mobile OS was set up with such encryption that it’d be “technically unfeasible” to go with government warrants for data.  Only the user is geared and able to have access to his/her information, according to Apple.

“What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to place themselves beyond the law,” responded FBI director James Comey.

Apple for its part, did not back or hold any punches. “If we don’t do everything we can to protect privacy, we risk more than money. We risk our way of life.” said Apple CEO Tim Cook at a White House cyber summit at Stanford earlier this year.

The White House and Congress are currently weighing their options for changes to existing rules and making new laws and rules about encryption, in the constantly changing landscape of cybersecurity in today’s world.