WASHINGTON, May 20 (UPI) -- Technology giants including Google, Apple, Microsoft and Facebook have sent an open letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to stop government's access to encrypted data.
New America's Open Technology Institute sent the joint letter to the White House on Tuesday. It was signed by nearly 150 organizations, including privacy and human rights organizations and technology companies.
"The letter defends Americans' right to use strong encryption to protect their data and opposes the idea of mandatory 'back doors' to enable government access to encrypted data," a statement by New America said.
The organization points to the ongoing debate on encryption that began when Apple announced that new iPhones would be encrypted by default. FBI Director James Comey said to Congress last year that he was worried smartphone data could become inaccessible, even with a court order.
Strong encryption is necessary for economic security because it protects billions of people every day from crimes ranging from theft of phones and laptops to identity theft and corporate theft, according to New America.
"We urge you to reject any proposal that U.S. companies deliberately weaken the security of their products. We request that the White House instead focus on developing policies that will promote rather than undermine the wide adoption of strong encryption technology. Such policies will in turn help to promote and protect cybersecurity, economic growth and human rights, both here and abroad," the letter to Obama said.
Human Rights Watch, the Internet Association, the Consumer Electronics Association and Hewlett-Packard were also among those that signed the letter.