Tech Giants Urge Obama To End Phone Spying

In a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, a large group of technology companies, trade associations, civil groups and security experts urged President Barack Obama to reject any proposals that would undermine strong encryption technologies for electronic communications. The signatories are asking the president not to allow encryption backdoors that would enable government access to personal information stored on mobile devices.

Among the letter's 143 signatories were Google, Apple, Cisco Systems, Dropbox, Facebook, HP, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter, the Wikimedia Foundation and Yahoo.

The letter was written in response to recent comments from some officials in the Obama administration calling for weaker encryption so the government can access data on cellphones, laptops and other devices when it deems it necessary. Among the officials who have been the most vocal opponents of strong encryption is James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Strong encryption technologies is the "cornerstone of the modern information economy's security . . . This protection would be undermined by the mandatory insertion of any new vulnerabilities into encrypted devices and services," according to the letter.

'Protect Security, Respect Privacy'

In the letter, the signatories urge Obama to follow the 2013 recommendations of the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. The five-member group was appointed by the president to make recommendations on how the U.S. "can employ its technical collection capabilities in a manner that optimally protects our national security and advances our foreign policy while respecting our commitment to privacy and civil liberties."

Three of the five members of the Review Group signed today's letter to the president. They included Richard Clarke, who now serves as chairman of Good Harbor Security Risk Management; Geoffrey Stone, a law professor at the University of Chicago; and Peter Swire, a professor of law and ethics at the Georgia Institute of...

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