Google and Apple urging Obama to keep smartphones secure

Encrypted data on smartphones today make it difficult for law enforcement around the world to decipher data on smartphones that needs to be used in investigations. The difficulty for the technology industry is that the vast majority of smartphone users aren't breaking the law in any way and want their personal data to be secure. At the same time law enforcement officials like FBI Director James B. Comey (pictured) are concerned that the growth of encrypted technologies is hindering law enforcement agencies during investigations.

Seeing the writing on the wall, tech giants such as Apple and Google along with cryptologists are already urging President Obama to reject any proposals from the government that might affect the security of communications devices and allow law enforcement agencies to view decrypted data. A coalition of companies, security experts, and other interested parties have sent a letter to the White House appealing to the president to protect privacy rights while law makers wade through what to do to address the need for law enforcement to access data that is encrypted during legitimate investigations.

The concern on the part of law enforcement is that both Google and Apple have forms of smartphone encryption that can't be unencrypted by law enforcement even if the agency has a warrant. FBI and Justice Department officials have stated that they support the use of encryption, but want a way for law enforcement to get the lawful access needed during an investigation.

The issue as tech firms see it is that to give law enforcement the access they want a backdoor would be needed in all encrypted devices and that backdoor could also be exploited by hackers and other malicious attackers. Ronald L. Rivest says that once you weaken standards to allow law enforcement access you have done "great damage" to the security infrastructure in the US.

SOURCE: Washington Post