Date
27 May 2017
The US government is no longer seeking a law to force tech firms to allow it access to encrypted messages on their networks. Photo: tech.eu
The US government is no longer seeking a law to force tech firms to allow it access to encrypted messages on their networks. Photo: tech.eu

Obama backs away from law to allow access to encrypted messages

US President Barack Obama’s administration has backed away from seeking legislation that would give US law enforcement agencies access to individuals’ encrypted messages, the White House said.

“We are actively engaged with private companies to ensure they understand the public safety and national security risks that result from malicious actors’ use of their encrypted products and services,” Reuters quoted White House spokesman Mark Stroh as saying Saturday.

“However, the administration is not seeking legislation at this time.”

Stroh reiterated comments by Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey, who, testifying before a Senate committee Thursday, said the administration would not seek a bill allowing it to crack encrypted information.

“Changing forms of internet communication and the use of encryption are posing real challenges to the FBI’s ability to fulfill its public safety and national security missions,” Comey warned.

The tech industry, through groups representing the likes of Apple Inc., Google Inc., Facebook Inc., IBM and Microsoft Corp., has resisted any moves by the government to weaken increasingly sophisticated encryption systems designed to protect consumers’ privacy.

The decision to back away from a law that would require companies  to turn over encrypted information to the federal government came from fears that the information would then be vulnerable to hackers, the New York Times reported Saturday.

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