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Tech Industry Coalition Defies Calls for Weakened Encryption

A coalition of dozens of the largest tech companies in the world is adamantly opposing any form of an official "backdoor" into encrypted devices.

The Information Technology Industry Council is a group of more than 60 major tech companies and organizations, including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Intel and Facebook.

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"We deeply appreciate law enforcement's and the national security community’s work to protect us," the council said in a statement issued Thursday, "but weakening encryption or creating backdoors to encrypted devices and data for use by the good guys would actually create vulnerabilities to be exploited by the bad guys, which would almost certainly cause serious physical and financial harm across our society and our economy."

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It's a response to calls from CIA Director John Brennan, the Manhattan District Attorney, members of Congress and more, who allege that strong encryption allows terrorists to communicate freely while blocking the efforts of law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris amplified an ongoing debate, although there has been no evidence that the attackers relied on encrypted communication tools to coordinate.

The tech community isn't persuaded by the calls for an encryption backdoor: From CEOs and investors to researchers and privacy advocates, many have already spoken out against the idea.

"Encryption is a security tool we rely on everyday to stop criminals from draining our bank accounts, to shield our cars and airplanes from being taken over by malicious hacks, and to otherwise preserve our security and safety," the ITI statement said. "Weakening security with the aim of advancing security simply does not make sense."

Last summer, the ITI and the Software & Information Industry Association wrote a letter to President Barack Obama, saying they oppose "any policy actions or measures" by the federal government that would undermine encryption technologies.