Technology companies are warning the United States government not to weaken encryption systems designed to protect consumer privacy.
The warning comes as Washington weighs new cybersecurity measures amid a public backlash over mass surveillance, Reuters reported Wednesday.
In a strongly worded letter to President Barack Obama on Monday, two industry associations said they are opposed to any policy that would undermine encryption.
The Information Technology Industry Council and the Software and Information Industry Association, representing technology giants including Apple Inc., Google Inc., Facebook Inc., IBM and Microsoft Corp., fired the latest salvo in what is shaping up to be a long fight over government access to smart phones and other digital devices.
The Obama administration and the FBI are pushing tech companies to find ways to let law enforcement bypass encryption to investigate illegal activities including terrorism threats without weakening it so that criminals and computer hackers could penetrate the defenses.
However, the White House has not spelled out specific regulatory or legislative steps.
Some cybersecurity experts are skeptical that Congress will take legislative action to expand the administration’s powers anytime soon because of recent lopsided votes in the House of Representatives to rein in surveillance.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the administration “firmly supports” the development and robust adoption of strong encryption.
But he added there are concerns about the use of encryption by terrorists and other criminals to conceal and enable crimes and other malicious activity.
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