When U.S. President Obama speaks with David Cameron this week, he should expect the British prime minister to pitch him about criticizing American companies that develop encryption services that can’t be deciphered, sources told the Wall Street Journal.
Cameron has complained in recent days about the growing popularity of encryption, which has surged in popularity since popular companies like Facebook and Apple have released products that make it impossible for police to access even with a court’s permission. Cameron will meet with Obama in the White House Friday, when he’s also expected to advocate forcing social media companies to scour users' information to detect potential national security threats.
“The prime minister’s objective here is to get the U.S. companies to cooperate with his more, to make sure that our intelligence agencies get the information they need to keep us safe,” a source told the Guardian. “That will be his approach in the discussion with President Obama – how can we work together to get them to cooperate more, what is the best approach to encourage them to do more.”
Attention around the encryption issue has grown as the technology industry has become more frustrated with government efforts to collect user data, while also preventing the companies from being transparent about what they’re required to do. FBI Director James Comey previously said Apple was interfering with police investigations last year by creating a phone passcode that can only be broken by the user – Apple would even be locked out if forced by a judge to break the code.
Comey suggested rewriting laws to ensure that tech companies don’t create laws that lock police out of users' communication devices. A source familiar with Cameron’s plan told the Journal the prime minister will attempt to sway Obama “in the direction of what the FBI has said about this.”