US: Citizens' privacy should be balanced against gov't needs

White House strikes a more nuanced approach to data gathering compared to David Cameron's remarks earlier this week

US: Citizens' privacy should be balanced against gov't needs

World Bulletin/News Desk

The national security and privacy of citizens should be balanced against British Prime Minster David Cameron's quest for tech companies to decrypt messages, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday.

Cameron said he would press President Barack Obama to ask technology companies to more closely monitor users’ content and share potential terror threats with government intelligence agencies when the pair meet Thursday and Friday at the White House.

Earnest said he would expect the two leaders to discuss the issue and that the conversation on the issue would continue not only among the U.S. and its allies but also with technology companies ahead of and during the intergovernmental Cyber Security Summit to be held in California next month.

"Our British counterparts would agree that it is imperative that we properly balance the need for government, intelligence agencies and national security agencies to access to certain kinds of information to try to protect their citizens," Earnest said. "At the same time, it is critically important for the government to protect the privacy of their citizens, and trying to balance those two competing priorities is difficult."

Cameron on Monday said that he would pursue a ban on popular messaging services such as Snapchat and WhatsApp if he were re-elected in May and if Britain’s intelligence services were not given access to the communications.

His comments come as many European politicians demand that Internet companies like Google and Facebook provide greater information about users’ online activities following recent terrorist threats and attacks, including the ones in Paris last week.

Earlier this week, Obama announced plans to strengthen cybersecurity and protect privacy rights, including partnering with private companies in the fight against cyber attacks. 

Encrypting messages and content was a feature many technology companies enhanced in order to keep private communications from being able to be accessed by government agencies in the wake of revelations in 2013 by Edward Snowden about global surveillance programs by the U.S. National Security Agency. 

 

Last Mod: 16 Ocak 2015, 11:01
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