In a letter to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation sparked by the FBI v. Apple controversy earlier this year, nearly two dozen Bay State business leaders and academic experts call on our representatives in Washington to reject any legislative proposal that would restrict American corporations' ability to provide customers and users with secure encryption tools.
"Digital security is a requirement for both consumer safety and economic resilience," the letter reads. "Every day, Americans and their businesses rely on strong encryption to safeguard banking transactions, health records, and even classified government information. Strong digital security shields people from potentially catastrophic identity theft, corporations from industrial spying, and health care, finance and legal professionals from harmful disclosures of privileged patient or client information."
The Massachusetts high-tech sector provides our state with among its best jobs, and sustains hundreds of thousands of workers outside of the industry who depend on a successful tech economy, the letter says. For Massachusetts, strong encryption is not only vital to our security but also to our economic health.
"If U.S.-based corporations are forced to comply with government demands to hack their own users, business customers will look to other nations for secure products," the experts warn. "The economic impact of the resulting hit to the United States technology industry would be profound, especially for the high-tech Massachusetts economy."
The business leaders and technology experts' letter takes direct aim at non-scientific claims that engineers can construct special access systems enabling law enforcement, and only law enforcement, to access otherwise secure information. "Contrary to popular misconception," the experts write, "there is simply no way to create a 'backdoor' into otherwise secure systems that can only be accessed by law enforcement. Systems either integrate strong security protocols or they don't."
"Strong encryption and privacy are social and economic necessities," said ProtonMail Co-Founder Dr. Andy Yen, a signatory. "Not only does this technology protect activists and dissidents, it is also key to securing the world's digital infrastructure."
"We are proud to stand with leaders in the Massachusetts technology community to call on our elected representatives in Washington to follow facts, and not fear, when shaping public policy that will profoundly shape our nation's future,” said Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts.