A view of a makeshift memorial near the Inland Regional Center on December 4, 2015 in San Bernardino, California
With renewed focus on how encrypted messages can be used to plot terrorist attacks, President Barack Obama’s administration is stepping up pressure on the tech sector to help in the battle.
Although issues around encryption have been ongoing for decades, the prickly topic has sprung to the fore in recent weeks following killing sprees in Paris and California.
Over the past two years, more sophisticated encryption—notably for smartphones—has become widely available following revelations by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden about vast US surveillance programs.
But US administration officials as well as local law enforcement are making the case for better access to encrypted data, saying new smartphone and encryption technologies have made it more difficult to thwart “malicious actors.”
“We want to strike the right balance. We want to make sure encryption is not used in a way that does allow for dark space for terrorist groups,” a White House statement said.
Privacy remains a major counter-argument.
Underlining those concerns, an online petition calling on the administration to avoid weakening encryption got more than 100,000 signatures, requiring a White House reply.
White House chief technology officer Ed Felton and cybersecurity chief Michael Daniel said in response that “American technologists have a unique perspective… and we need them to bring their expertise, innovation and creativity to bear against the threat of terrorism.”
Some analysts say the public is though ready…