WASHINGTON – Today the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI), the global voice for the technology sector, again cautioned the Obama administration against actions or policies by the federal government that would undermine encryption technologies. Following testimony by FBI Director James Comey before two Senate committees, the tech group cited the importance of encryption technology in protecting consumer privacy and securing the integrity of data in the global digital infrastructure.
“Encryption is a bedrock technology that protects our networks and consumers’ private information from cybercriminals and other bad actors,” said ITI President and CEO Dean Garfield. “In fact, the rapid growth of our innovative economy was made possible because encryption fosters consumer confidence by ensuring the security of online transactions and services that we rely upon in our everyday lives.”
Without describing specific or technical proposals to address law enforcement’s concerns, FBI Director Comey in his testimony reiterated earlier claims that encryption technology is an obstacle for law enforcement.
“We appreciate law enforcement has legitimate needs for information during criminal investigations and the technology industry works with local, state, and federal law enforcement to comply with lawful requests for information during such investigations,” Garfield said. “We reiterate our commitment to a dialogue with the administration and law enforcement regarding their concerns, but we also encourage policymakers to consider that weak encryption is essentially no encryption, leaving all consumers vulnerable to breaches of privacy and cybercrime. We therefore caution the administration against pursuing policies that encourage or require companies to weaken encryption technologies, including requiring so-called ‘back-doors.’”
Last month ITI sent a joint letter with the Software & Information Industry Association to President Obama recognizing that “the issue at hand is extremely complex, with implications both domestically and internationally” and urged the president to work with the technology industry to find a path forward that “preserves security, privacy, and innovation.”
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