Graham to Silicon Valley: ‘Change your business model’

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Republican presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey GrahamOvernight Defense: US blames ISIS for Turkey attack | Afghan visas in spending bill | Army rolls up its sleeves Senate panel passes bill that would create 4K visas for Afghans Trump: Rivals who don't back me shouldn't be allowed to run for office MORE (S.C.) has harsh words for tech companies claiming their encryption makes it impossible to comply with court orders seeking secured data.

“Here’s my message to Silicon Valley: Change your business model tomorrow,” Graham said during a Wednesday night interview on Fox New’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.”

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Since the disclosure of secret government surveillance programs, prominent tech companies such as Apple and Google have moved to encrypt their customers’ communications in an effort to keep the data away from government spies.

But in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, Calif., pressure is mounting on the tech community to work more closely with the government.

Law enforcement officials are warning that homegrown extremists are exchanging encrypted messages with known overseas terrorists. Those communications could tip off investigators, they say, but officials are having trouble getting access to them.

“There’s technology available to terrorists where they can communicate without — even with a court order — they can communicate without us knowing,” Graham said. “That has to change.”

Cybersecurity experts and major tech firms such as Apple have argued that for encryption to fully protect digital data, even companies must be locked out of their own encryption. Any form of guaranteed access, they maintain, will simply expose data to hackers, as well as government officials.

But Graham, who has based much of his White House bid on a more hawkish approach to fighting terrorism, said this approach has simply allowed potential domestic terrorists to radicalize off the government’s radar.

He cited the May shooting outside a Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland, Texas. During a Wednesday FBI oversight hearing, FBI Director James Comey said encryption obstructed the investigation.

“One of the shooters in Texas,” Graham said, “had 109 messages sent between him and a known terrorist overseas that we could not look at because of encryption.”

“It is insane to have a system in the United States where a person inside the country could communicate overseas with a known terrorist and the government can’t look at it,” he added.

On Wednesday, Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne FeinsteinUS reveals death toll from terror strikes outside war zones House to vote on NRA-backed gun measure Homeland Security Committee pushes encryption commission in new report MORE (D-Calif.) vowed to introduce legislation that would compel companies to comply with a court order for encrypted communications, even if they insist the data is inaccessible.

“I’ve never seen a more ripe time for an attack on our homeland than right now,” Graham said.