Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants urge Obama not to give police access to encrypted phone data

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Apple, Google and Microsoft are amongst more than 140 technology companies who have signed a letter to President Obama calling for him to reject measures that would weaken encryption and security in smartphones and other devices.

The letter, also signed by numerous security experts, follows several calls by law enforcement officials for companies to make it easier for agencies to access data on consumer devices. Recent security measures make it more difficult for outside parties to gain access to your data, including law enforcement.

“Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security,” said the letter

FBI and Justice Department officials say they support the use of encryption but want a way for officials to get the lawful access they need.

Many technologists say there is no way to do so without building a separate key to unlock the data — often called a “backdoor,” which they say amounts to a vulnerability that can be exploited by hackers and foreign governments.

Privacy activist Kevin Bankston organized the letter to maintain pressure on the White House. “Since last fall, the president has been letting his top law enforcement officials criticize companies for making their devices more secure and letting them suggest that Congress should pass pro-backdoor legislation,” said Bankston, policy director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute.

“It’s time for Obama to put an end to these dangerous suggestions that we should deliberately weaken the cybersecurity of Americans’ products and services,” he said. “It’s time for America to lead the world toward a more secure future rather than a digital ecosystem riddled with vulnerabilities of our own making.”

You can read the full letter here.

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