By Frank Konkel, Executive Editor, Nextgov:
A coalition for secure elections sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr Wednesday, criticizing the AG for recent comments he made calling on companies to create a “backdoor” through encryption.
The letter, published by the Project on Government Oversight, warns such backdoors—even if expressly for use by law enforcement—would weaken the security of encrypted services and devices, “opening the door” for hackers to harm users.
“While encryption does not guarantee safety from all forms of malicious hacking, it is a vital safeguard to minimize risk. The Department of Justice has previously asked companies to create a ‘backdoor’ through encryption that would be accessible to law enforcement—but it is simply not possible to create a ‘backdoor’ that could not also be accessed by malicious hackers,” the letter states.
The letter follows pressure from the Justice Department on companies like Apple and Facebook to provide law enforcement backdoor access to systems if permitted under a warrant. Apple has refused to unlock encrypted iPhones for the FBI going back several years, and the issue took renewed importance last week after Barr called on Apple to unlock two phones used by a gunman at a naval air station in Pensacola, Fla.
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