Carly Fiorina, the former tech CEO running for president, called on companies such as Apple and Google to cooperate more closely with federal investigators.
There should be “more collaboration required between private sector companies and the public sector,” Fiorina said during Thursday’s first presidential debate for Republican candidates outside the top 10.
Silicon Valley and the Obama administration are battling over whether law enforcement officials should have guaranteed access to encrypted customer data at major tech firms.
The FBI and White House have called for some type of legal framework that would ensure access to encrypted communications and information. They argue that officials are being stymied from getting evidence, even when armed with a warrant, during criminal and national security investigations.
But most prominent tech CEOs, such as Apple’s Tim Cook, have made high-profile pitches for strong, universal encryption, in which even the company does not have the ability to look at its customers' communications. Security researchers and technologists have backed up their calls, arguing any guaranteed way in weakens worldwide encryption.
Fiorina, who headed tech giant Hewlett-Packard from 1999 to 2005, fought back against that narrative on Thursday.
“We need to tear down cyber walls not on a mass basis, but on a targeted basis,” she said.
When pressed on whether she believes Apple and Google, specifically, need to work more closely with the government on these issues, Fiorina doubled down.
“I absolutely would call on them to collaborate and cooperate,” she said.
Fiorina also claimed that a long-stalled cybersecurity bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA), could have prevented some of the recent cyberattacks that have plagued the government and private sector.
The measure would facilitate the exchange of cyber threat information between companies and the government.
While CISA supporters argue enhancing cyber threat information-sharing is a necessity to better understand and repel potential cyberattacks, digital privacy advocates believe the bill will simply funnel more sensitive data on American citizens to government intelligence agencies.
Fiorina insisted "we could have repelled" some of the recent cyberattacks “if collaboration had been permitted.”
CISA, she added, “would help.”