Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Coalition Aims to Solve Privacy V. National Security Debate

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Coalition Aims to Solve Privacy V. National Security Debate

Article excerpt

Amid an intensifying nationwide debate over privacy rights, a coalition of technology experts, privacy advocates, and former government officials is setting out to forge a consensus between Washington and the tech sector when it comes balancing consumer security and national security interests.

The Digital Equilibrium Project, announced Tuesday, brings together 15 experts with the aim of finding a framework that protects privacy while also giving law enforcement and intelligence agencies the ability to access the communications of suspected criminals and terrorists.

The announcement comes as privacy issues have reached the national spotlight since Apple is refusing to help the FBI access an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif., shooters. The Silicon Valley tech giant claims that aiding federal agents in this case would irrevocably weaken security for all of its customers.

While privacy advocates, civil liberties groups, and tech companies such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter support Apple's stance, the public appears to be siding the FBI. In a Pew Research Poll, 51 percent of respondents said that Apple should help unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone.

"We need to get to an equilibrium about the needs of the state versus the needs of an individual," said Nuala O'Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology, a tech advocacy group. "The Apple-FBI case crystallizes that there are very compelling national security concerns at stake. The decisions being made now are going to have a huge impact in our lives."

The group says it plans to release guidelines for the government and private sector to cooperate on policies that support both consumer privacy rights and national security needs at next month's RSA Conference in San Francisco. So far, the group has received input from retired government officials including a former National Security Agency director and Homeland Security secretary as well as senior technology executives and digital privacy advocates. …

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