Apple and other tech giants ask Obama not to give encrypted phone data to police

BY Killian Bell

Published 19 May 2015

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Apple, Google, and other technology giants are asking President Obama to reject government proposals that could provide law enforcement agencies with private phone data. A letter will be sent to the White House today in an effort to protect the privacy rights of cellphone users.

Signed by more than 140 tech companies, security experts, and civil society groups, according to the Washington Post, the letter reads: “Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security.”

The letter comes after senior law enforcement officials warned that a loss of access to data and communications could present a threat to public safety. The FBI and Justice Department have said that while they support encryption, they also want a way for officials to gain lawful access to data if needed.

But Apple, Google, and many others want to prevent that. Both companies have promoted their softwares’ ability to encrypt data that not even law enforcement agencies could gain access to — even with a warrant. That’s perfectly legal now, but they want to ensure it stays that way.

That’s why these companies are now urging Obama not to change the rules, and some people close to the President have their backing.

“The letter is signed by three of the five members of a presidential review group appointed by Obama in 2013 to assess technology policies in the wake of leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden,” The Washington Post reports.

“The signatories urge Obama to follow the group’s unanimous recommendation that the government should ‘fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards.'”

It seems like the vast majority are for data encryption and keeping data private, with even lawmakers on both sides expressing skepticism towards the demands of law enforcement agencies. But pressure from the biggest companies in tech certainly won’t do any harm.