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Google and Apple urge Obama to resist encryption backdoors

Several huge technology firms have come together to urge US President Barack Obama not to pass legislation demanding backdoor access to encrypted devices.

More than 140 companies and prominent figures in the tech industry, including the likes of Apple and Google, have sent an open letter to the White House proclaiming that “strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security.”

Read more: Top tech CEOs snub Obama cyber security and consumer protection summit

The letter is likely to be a response to calls from the FBI and Justice Department to include backdoors to allow them to access data on US citizens. Many have pointed out that including such a vulnerability leaves personal information subject to interception and surveillance, not just by the US government, but other parties as well.

The letter has also gained the support of three out of the five members of Obama’s review group set up in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA revelations. The letter stresses that the President should carry out the group’s recommendation to “fully support and not undermine efforts to create encryption standards.”

One of the signatories from the presidential review group, Richard A. Clarke, who also worked as cyber-security adviser to President George W. Bush, noted that the government had failed in a previous attempt to pressure phone companies to include a backdoor for encrypted calls.

“If they couldn’t pull it off at the end of the Cold War, they sure as hell aren’t going to pull it off now,” he told the Washington Post.

Read more: FBI use 18th century law to block Apple and Google’s data encryption

While public safety is a valid concern, security experts rightly point out that a backdoor enabling only the US government to access data is simply not possible. By deliberately introducing a vulnerability into devices and networks, President Obama would be introducing a security flaw that could be exploited by many others.

Barclay has been writing about technology for a decade, starting out as a freelancer with IT Pro Portal covering everything from London’s start-up scene to comparisons of the best cloud storage services.  After that, he spent some time as the managing editor of an online outlet focusing on cloud computing, furthering his interest in virtualization, Big Data, and the Internet of Things.