Apple CEO Tim Cook and NSA Director Admiral Rogers went head-to-head in a debate on Monday over how much data access tech companies should provide U.S. intelligence agencies. Tim Cook clearly opposed the fact that how back doors in data encryption allows intelligence agencies to sneakily access personal user information.
Law enforcement and intelligence agencies have for long argued how pivotal access to private data is to maintain national security and keep a check on terrorist threats. While tech companies, on the other hand, have debated the so-called back doors as it jeopardizes personal user information that might also have adverse effects on a company’s business.
“You cannot have a back door in the software because you cannot have a back door that’s only for the good guys,” Cook said at the Wall Street Journal Digital Live technology conference.
US government surveillance programs have faced an intense backlash from the international community since their revelation. According to a report by Information Technology and Innovative Foundation published on June 9, US-based technology companies might lose an estimated $35 billion in sales and contracts by 2016 because of the government’s surveillance policies.
Both parties discussed how to strike a balance between privacy and state’s surveillance norms. While the NSA director did acknowledge the conflict between the two, though emphasized the threats he believed the U.S could face adding that “strong encryption is in our nation’s best interest.”
However, Cook took an entirely different stand and said that the possibility of a trade-off in this context is rather bleak.
“Nobody should have to decide privacy and security. We should be smart enough to do both. Both of these things were essential parts of our Constitution. It did not say prioritize this one above all of these. I mean, these guys were really smart folks, and they held all of these things and said all of these are what it means to be an American,” adds Cook.
He further added that privacy will become an utmost priority to customers over time, as they’ll start realizing how their private life is out there in the open and “being used for all sorts of things.”