Tech giants reaffirm stance against government snooping

Reform Government Surveillance, a coalition of some of the world’s largest tech companies, has agreed on a sixth core principle to guide its advocacy efforts going forward.

The sixth principle reaffirms the groups position on encryption and the worrying trend of short-sighted government official’s efforts to force build-on vulnerabilities into software. This is not a new argument, though governments are still standing firm on ignorant foundations, arguing the ridiculous idea that reducing the effectiveness of security features is a good idea.

The principle is as follows:

“Strong encryption of devices and services protects the sensitive data of our users – including individuals, corporations, and governments. Strong encryption also promotes free expression and the free flow of information around the world. Requiring technology companies to engineer vulnerabilities into their products and services would undermine the security and privacy of our users, as well as the world’s information technology infrastructure. Governments should avoid any action that would require companies to create any security vulnerabilities in their products and services.”

While it is an argument which has died down in recent months, it is still bubbling away in the background as other scandals offer politicians the opportunity to get their superficial grins on the front pages. In the UK the tech giants might be glad to see the back of the forgetful former Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who has led a campaign against encryption, though her successor has not revealed his stance just yet; Sajid Javid might prove to be just as idiotic.

At we appreciate there is a balance to strike between the physical protection of a nation and online security. Governments should be granted access to information when justified, however building vulnerabilities into security features is not the right answer. Should backdoors be built, it would only be a matter of time before hackers and other nefarious actors gain unrestricted access to personal information. The idea is quite frankly ridiculous.

The other principles are as follows:

  1. Limiting Governments’ Authority to Collect Users’ Information
  2. Oversight and Accountability
  3. Transparency About Government Demands
  4. Respecting the Free Flow of Information
  5. Avoiding Conflicts Among Governments

The group features some of the biggest names in the technology world, including Apple, Dropbox, Google, Facebook and Microsoft. Such resistance to ill-advised and ridiculous government ideas such as the weakening of encryption software should be encouraged. It is reassuring to see the tech companies are retaining their firm position against the foolhardy governments and intelligence agencies who have not proved they should be trusted.

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