Apple CEO backs use of encryption

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Cotton slams Apple on encryption.

Tom Cotton on Monday slammed Apple CEO Tim Cook over his defense of encryption on “60 Minutes” and warned that major tech companies risk becoming havens for “child pornographers, drug traffickers and terrorists alike.” In the wake of the deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., top law enforcement officials including FBI Director James Comey have complained about the lack of “backdoors” that would help the government decipher private communications. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who claims Apple will soon be a go-to company for child pornographers if it doesn’t change its encryption. “Apple is a distinctive company that has improved the lives of millions of Americans. One House lawmaker wants to commission an entire, select panel to study encryption; others have asked the National Academy of Sciences to open an inquiry. And a growing number of lawmakers are looking at ways to require the tech industry to play a greater role in policing social media for potential terrorist threats.

At the Democratic debate Saturday, front-runner Hillary Clinton went as far as to call for a “Manhattan-like Project” to study ways to balance law enforcement needs with privacy, though she argued that “maybe the back door is the wrong door.” Republican candidates like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, meanwhile, have affirmed their support for greater surveillance tools. Cotton’s statement manages to stand out through the run-of-the-mill stupidity for several reasons: He accuses Cook of omitting critical facts, but does not say which facts Cook omitted. Cotton notes that Cook’s claim that Apple cannot comply with subpoenas is true, and then insists that Apple, Google, and Facebook are held to less rigorous legal standards than phone companies.

Cotton’s statement is emblematic of a specific strain of techno-paranoia infecting Capitol Hill, but remember: This isn’t a fight between good and evil.

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