Apple and the National Security Agency (NSA) had their leaders tackle a sore subject in the latest attempt to reach a consensus regarding encryption and government back doors.
It's no big secret that the U.S. government has been pushing to get access to encrypted information so it can better prevent threats, but heavyweight companies such as Apple oppose government back doors because the practice would open up a Pandora's Box.
On Monday, Oct. 19, Apple CEO Tim Cook and NSA Director Adm. Michael Rogers made an appearance at WSJDLive, The Wall Street Journal's technology conference, giving back-to-back interviews that tackled the encryption issue. The chiefs didn't go into great detail, but it's clear that they have opposing views on the matter.
"Strong encryption is in our nation's best interest," Rogers reckoned when asked about technology companies' efforts to build secure products that protect user privacy data even from law enforcement. When suggested that strong encryption includes an impenetrable layer, however, the NSA chief said he didn't say that.
Apple CEO Tim Cook, meanwhile, stood firm on his stance against government backdoors that would breach its encryption. Cook argued that encryption is paramount to protecting people and should not be impenetrable just for some, while open for others.
"You can't have a backdoor that's only for the good guys," said Cook.
It's been more than a year federal officials, Apple and other technology companies have been dancing around this matter. While tech firms militate against government backdoors and refuse to decrypt some information for law enforcement, the NSA argues that getting access to such information could go a great way in helping defend the nation against cyber-attacks. The NSA chief suggested that one can't compromise national security for the sake of privacy, as there should be equilibrium between the two.