President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, among other world leaders, have suggested that companies should not create IT products and services so secure that governments cannot gain access. FBI Director James Comey has gone so far as to criticize companies that build consumer devices designed without back doors for law enforcement, and one Justice Department official has labeled devices with strong encryption a “zone of lawlessness.” These statements reflect a deep disconnect between ongoing efforts, including within the federal government, to build ever more secure systems for data and attempts by the intelligence community and law enforcement to circumvent them. The tension also reflects a significant threat to the future economic success of the U.S. tech industry, since foreign competitors are likely to offer more secure alternatives in the global market.
While the Crypto Wars of the 1990's may be over, there are clearly more battles ahead. Join ITIF for a panel to discuss how these proposed policies will affect consumers’ privacy and security, the implications for the U.S. tech sector, and alternative policy options that might strike a better balance the needs of law enforcement and robust security practices.