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Tech giants hit by NSA spying slam encryption backdoors

The tech coalition includes Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Verizon and Yahoo’s parent company Oath — all of which were hit by claims of complicity with US government’s surveillance.

A coalition of Silicon Valley tech giants has doubled down on its criticism of encryption backdoors following a proposal that would give law enforcement access to locked and encrypted devices.

The group, which focuses on efforts to reform government surveillance, said in a statement that it continues to advocate for strong encryption, and decried attempts to undermine the technology.

“Recent reports have described new proposals to engineer vulnerabilities into devices and services — but they appear to suffer from the same technical and design concerns that security researchers have identified for years,” the statement read.

The renewed criticism follows a lengthy Wired article, in which former Microsoft software chief Ray Ozzie proposed a new spin on key escrow. Device encryption has hampered police investigations, and law enforcement officials have pushed tech companies to fix the problem — even by way of suing them.

But security experts and cryptographers say that any kind of backdoor can’t be done without it risking being abused or exploited by hackers — and criticized Ozzie’s plan as flawed.

“Weakening the security and privacy that encryption helps provide is not the answer,” said the group’s statement.

The tech coalition includes Microsoft — Ozzie’s former employer — as well as Apple, Facebook, and Google, and Verizon and Yahoo’s parent company Oath — all of which were hit by allegations of complicity with the government’s surveillance efforts.

The statement comes a week after the group announced the importance of strong encryption as a new core principle behind its mission, calling on governments to “avoid any action that would require companies to create any security vulnerabilities in their products and services.”

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