Apple, Google and Microsoft: weakening encryption lets the bad guys in

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Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, Twitter, Facebook and 56 other technology companies have joined together to reject calls for weakening encryption saying it would be “exploited by the bad guys”.

After Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook’s claims that “any backdoor is a backdoor for everyone”, the Information Technology Industry Council, which represents 62 of the largest technology companies worldwide, said: “Encryption is a security tool we rely on everyday to stop criminals from draining our bank accounts, to shield our cars and airplanes from being taken over by malicious hacks, and to otherwise preserve our security and safety.”

The debate over encryption, which has become the bedrock of the internet used by almost every transmission that needs to be secure and increasingly those that don’t, has erupted after the terrorist attacks on Paris.

The Information Technology Industry Council’s chief executive, Dean Garfield, said: “Weakening security with the aim of advancing security simply does not make sense.”

End-to-end encrypted communications mean that only the sender and receiver can view the contents of the message, which governments say has put intelligence services at a disadvantage.

Governments, including the UK’s, have said that backdoors – holes in the security software powering various forms of encryption – should be created through which security services could view communications.

Garfield said: “Weakening encryption or creating backdoors to encrypted devices and data for use by the good guys would actually create vulnerabilities to be exploited by the bad guys, which would almost certainly cause serious physical and financial harm across our society and our economy.”

Security experts have previously described David Cameron as “living in cloud cuckoo land” over his suggestions that encrypted messaging apps should be banned.

Should technology companies refuse to include means through which governments and security agencies can break encryption, banning would only impact the lawful as it will be very hard to stop terrorists or other groups from using software that uses encryption.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Monday 23rd November 2015 12.42 Europe/London

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