TECH GIANTS APPLE, GOOGLE AND YAHOO, among many others, have written to president Obama asking him to reject government proposals that demand backdoor access to encrypted user data on communication devices and platforms.
The letter, sent on Tuesday and obtained by The Washington Post, is said to be signed by over 140 tech firms, industry experts and cryptologists.
The companies and individuals plead with the White House not to allow the changing of security on smartphones and other devices allowing backdoor access - a separate key to unlock the data - because "strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy's security".
Experts warn that doing so creates vulnerabilities that could be exploited by hackers and foreign governments.
The letter is in response to FBI director James Comey's demands for access to user data last month after Google and Apple said that they were going to create unbreakable encryption.
"There's no doubt that all of us should care passionately about privacy, but we should also care passionately about protecting innocent people," Comey said.
He added that the FBI and Department of Justice support encryption, but only as long as officials get access to communications.
The letter is also signed by three out of five members of a presidential review group appointed by Obama in 2013 to assess technology policies in the wake of leaks by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.
The signatories urge Obama to follow the group's unanimous recommendation that the US government should "fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards" and not "in any way subvert, undermine, weaken or make vulnerable" commercial software.
The outcome remains to be seen, but many believe that Obama will opt for the most secure form of communications possible. It was only this year that he was subject to many rumoured cyber attacks and hacking scandals, so you'd think he'd be inclined to agree with whatever the full letter asks.
Chief Cryptographer at security firm Certivox, Dr. Michael Scott, commented that this is more of a political than a technical matter and the main problem is one of enforceability.
"Law enforcement agencies can basically continue doing what they have been doing and work around the crypto," he said. "This means finding other ways to get the data they are looking for when it is unencrypted - which at some stage it must be."
In April, for instance, it was found that Obama's emails were intercepted by Russian hackers in a breach of the White House's computer system last year.
Unnamed senior officials told The New York Times that the hack, which was reported originally as a breach of unclassified information on president Obama's appointments and movements, was more serious than at first thought. µ
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