Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said Tuesday that encryption makes it harder for law enforcement to track down “evildoers” — and called for a “much better, more cooperative relationship” with Apple, Google, and other tech companies that are building uncrackable private communication apps into their new products.
“If you create encryption, it makes it harder for the American government to do its job — while protecting civil liberties — to make sure that evildoers aren’t in our midst,” Bush said in South Carolina at an event sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, a group with close ties to military contractors.
Bush said, “We need to find a new arrangement with Silicon Valley in this regard because I think this is a very dangerous kind of situation.”
But when the event moderator, former CNN anchor Jeanne Meserve, brought up scientists’ conclusions that giving law enforcement special access to communications also gives hackers more access, Bush didn’t explain his position any further.
“Good point, except we ought to have much more cooperation when it comes to cybersecurity,” he said.
Federal law enforcement officials, led by FBI Director James Comey, have been pressuring companies that are widely providing strong encryption, warning that the government is in danger of “going dark” when it comes to tracking criminals.
But computer scientists have been trying to explain for more than two decades that they can’t provide law enforcement with special access to digital devices and services without inherently weakening them. Providing a “backdoor” to law enforcement is the same as drilling a hole into the system’s security — a hole that criminals can also exploit.
First came the Never Trumpers, and I did not speak out, because they stood against Donald Trump. Then came the Lincoln Project, and I did not speak out, because their videos went viral. Then came the Chamber of Commerce, and by then it was too late.