Washington D.C. — Today, 18 organizations called on U.S. President Obama to make a declarative statement in support of strong encryption. The letter comes on the one-year anniversary of the day that a joint petition (SaveCrypto.org) reached 100,000 signatures, achieving a threshold that, according to the White House, would trigger a substantive response within 60 days. That never happened.
From the letter:
“Around the world, governments have capitalized on the lack of leadership in support for encryption and implemented harmful laws and policies. China specifically cited to the rhetoric in the U.S. last December when it passed a new law that likely bans end to end encryption, with no upper limit on fines for non-compliant companies. The UK is on the cusp of passing a law that could, practically, have the same impact. And from Brazil to Russia to India we are seeing other actions or proposals that could undermine the security of the global internet.
“Mr. President, your response is urgently needed to clarify the United States’ position and establish its leadership on this critically important topic. The United States should once and for all repudiate any type of mandate requiring third-party access to encrypted data, both stored and in transit.”
In addition to the letter, several organizations are raising awareness through blog posts recognizing one year of no substantive response from the White House.
“As more and more countries capitalize on President Obama’s silence on encryption to undermine digital security — taking actions such as implementing encryption bans, arresting employees of companies that dare to support strong encryption, developing and increasing hacking capabilities, and compromising the very infrastructure of the internet — it is imperative that we put this matter to sleep once and for all. President Obama must support the development and use of strong encryption, and without qualification,” said Amie Stepanovich, U.S. Policy Manager at Access Now.
“With just weeks left in his term in office, President Obama has failed to act, leaving a dangerous vacuum in leadership on encryption globally, which the next president must fill,” said Human Rights Watch.
“Obama has tried to paint himself as a tech-savvy president who champions civil liberties. As he prepares to leave office in a few months, he has a golden opportunity to stand up for digital security. That means doing more than quietly indicating he wouldn’t support a backdoor bill; it means affirmatively describing a policy of the federal government that doesn’t seek to undermine encryption,” said the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
“The Obama administration must make it clear that the United States supports strong encryption and will reject any attempt to undermine our security,” said Free Press.
“As the current Administration prepares to pass the torch, it will also be passing the baggage of the encryption debate. Now is the time for the White House to finally respond to the request we made this time last year,” said the Niskanen Center.
Nathan White, Senior Legislative Manager, Access Now
Amie Stepanovich, US Policy Manager, Access Now