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Google, Apple Urge Data Protection In White House Letter

Some of the world’s largest technology conglomerates, including Apple and Google, are joining forces to encourage the White House to get tough on data encryption.

Reports released Tuesday (May 19) revealed that 140 companies and experts are calling on federal officials not to pass any legislation that may weaken data encryption. The firms collectively sent a letter to the White House Tuesday calling on lawmakers to reject legal efforts that allow law enforcement to access decrypted data from devices like smartphones.

The Washington Post reportedly obtained a copy of the letter, signed by a slew of technology companies, data security experts and civil society proponents. The text calls on lawmakers to preserve data security in the name of privacy rights.

“Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security,” the letter reads.

The public support of stronger data privacy and protection rules further divides the sides on this issue. Last month, the head of the National Security Agency Adm. Michael S. Rogers suggested that technology firms should be obliged to provide federal officials with a kind of digital key that unlocks any protected device. Access to such data, some argue, is a matter of public safety.

But both Apple and Google released their own versions of smartphones encrypted so that even federal officials could not access the data on the device.

The Washington Post reported on a recent roundtable that focused on the debate, during which FBI Director James B. Comey perhaps put it best: “There’s no doubt that all of us should care passionately about privacy, but we should also care passionately about protecting innocent people,” he said. The challenge now is how to achieve both.

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