Aide: Obama supports strong data encryption

President Obama supports strong data encryption measures and has not called on companies to weaken encryption, an aide said Thursday.

White House Cybersecurity Coordinator Michael Daniel sought to reframe the debate over data security with an argument that current technologies pose an “unprecedented” challenge to law enforcement.

ADVERTISEMENT

“The technology is taking us to a place where you can put information literally beyond the reach of law enforcement, even under due process,” Daniel said during a panel discussion.

“That is something we have not really faced before … if you’re creating essentially a place where [obtaining the data] is not possible, even physically possible, that’s a new place to be.”

World leaders, including Obama, have raised concerns about new technologies that would prevent law enforcement from gaining access to data necessary for criminal or terrorist investigations.

Earlier this year, Obama backed British Prime Minister David Cameron calling for tech companies to create holes in their technology to allow the government to track social media communications.

“Because this is a whole new world, as David says, the laws that might’ve been designed for the traditional wiretap have to be updated,” Obama said in January.

Still, Daniel sought to emphasize Thursday that the government still believes in strong encryption.

“[Obama] actually said there is no scenario in which the U.S. government does not support strong encryption,” said Daniel, who serves as a special assistant to Obama.

The event was held by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation.