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Facebook, Google Urge Obama to Reject Encryption 'Back Doors'

In an open letter sent to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, leading tech firms urged against encryption 'back doors.'

In an open letter sent to President Barack Obama on Tuesday, leading tech firms, privacy advocacy groups, and security and policy experts urged against any laws that would require companies to build "back doors" into their software to provide government agencies access to encrypted data. "We urge you to reject any proposal that U.S. companies deliberately weaken the security of their products," the letter said. It was signed by nearly 50 tech companies including Apple, Facebook and Google. Last year, FBI Director James Comey gave a speech warning that "encryption threatens to lead all of us to a very dark place" and argued for tech companies to provide government agencies with the ability to intercept encrypted data, a recommendation echoed in a March speech by NSA director Adm. Michael S. Rogers.

The signatories of the letter argued against those measures. "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," the letter said, warning that such measures could give hackers, corporate spies and repressive governments the ability to access encrypted information. "We request that the White House instead focus on developing policies that will promote rather than undermine the wide adoption of strong encryption technology," the letter said. "Such policies will in turn help to promote and protect cybersecurity, economic growth, and human rights, both here and abroad."



— Keith Wagstaff