Obama pleads for cooperation on smartphone access

(March 14th, 2016) President  Obama said  on May 11 that smartphones – such as the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists that the FBI is trying to make Apple Inc. help it hack for information about possible ISIS links — can’t be allowed to be “black boxes,” inaccessible to the government.

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He said that the U.S. high-tech industry should work with the government law-enforcement officials now instead of leaving the issue to Congress.

He said that the tech industry has an urgent duty to work out an agreement with federal law-enforcement officials that balances privacy rights and the protection of the public from terrorists and other criminals.

“You cannot take an absolutist view on this, your argument is strong encryption no matter what, and we can and should create black boxes, that I think does not strike the kind of balance we have lived with for 200, 300 years, and it’s fetishizing our phones above every other value,” he told the South by Southwest music and tech festival, in Austin, Texas.
Government lawyers have complained that the battle with Apple “is the direct result of Apple’s deliberate marketing decision to engineer its products so that the government cannot search them, even with a warrant.’’
Mr. Obama said: “The question we now have to ask is, if technologically it is possible to make an impenetrable device or system, where the encryption is so strong there’s no key, there’s no door at all, then how do we apprehend the child pornographer? How do we solve or disrupt a terrorist plot?  If in fact you can’t crack that at all, government can’t get in, then everybody’s walking around with a Swiss bank account in their pocket.”

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