White House backs away from demanding access to encrypted data

white house backs away from demanding access to encrypted data whitehouse
The U.S. government is not currently seeking legislation demanding access to users’ encrypted data, according to a new report by Reuters. However, White House officials remain in talks with the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook to prevent “malicious actors” from avoiding detection and threatening national security through the use of closed networks.

“We are actively engaged with private companies to ensure they understand the public safety and national security risks that result from malicious actors’ use of their encrypted products and services,” said White House spokesman Mark Stroh, Reuters reports. “However, the administration is not seeking legislation at this time.”

Technology companies are firmly opposed to any kind of backdoor into their encrypted systems, citing concerns about user privacy. President Barack Obama’s administration, on the other hand, has previously warned about the dangers of providing impenetrable networks for terrorist and criminal groups to make use of.

“Changing forms of Internet communication and the use of encryption are posing real challenges to the FBI’s ability to fulfill its public safety and national security missions,” said FBI Director James Comey earlier in the week at a Senate committee hearing.

Of course the various advantages and disadvantages of encryption have been debated for many years already: Leaving a security loophole for the authorities to use in their investigations not only brings up privacy issues, but also gives rogue hackers the opportunity to access the same data if they can work out the combination code.

We’ve already seen a number of high-profile hacks carried out this year, and it seems they may have been influential in convincing government officials from backing down. For now, it seems the White House isn’t going to insist on being able to break into a smartphone or email account when it thinks it has sufficient grounds to do so, though it’s unlikely that we’ve heard the last of the tug-of-war between U.S. tech firms and the authorities.

Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.
Apple

Apple Pay will be available at 70 percent of U.S. retail locations this year

Apple Pay is growing rapidly, so we've built a list of all the vendors, retailers, and companies worldwide that plan to support Apple's burgeoning mobile payment platform or already do.
Computing

Worried about your online privacy? We tested the best VPN services

Browsing the web can be less secure than most users would hope. If that concerns you, a virtual private network — aka a VPN — is a decent solution. Check out a few of the best VPN services on the market.
News

Browse safely and securely with Opera’s unlimited VPN on Android

Opera has added a new VPN to its Android browser, offering an easy way to keep your privacy and data locked up solid, and with no limits on usage or cost, you can keep it on all the time.
Computing

Convert your PDFs into convenient Word documents with Adobe or a free option

PDF files are great, but few document types are as malleable as those specific to Microsoft Word. Here's how to convert a PDF file into a Word document, whether you prefer to use Adobe's software suite or a freemium alternative.
Computing

Our favorite Chrome themes add some much-needed pizzazz to your boring browser

Sometimes you just want Chrome to show a little personality and ditch the grayscale for something a little more lively. Lucky for you, we've sorted through the Chrome Web Store to find best Chrome themes available.
Computing

Amazon sale knocks $200 off the price of 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar

If you always wanted to buy a MacBook Pro but found it a bit too expensive, now is your chance to save. A base version of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar is currently on sale at Amazon for $1,600.
Computing

Need a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator? Here are our favorites

Photoshop and other commercial tools can be expensive, but drawing software doesn't need to be. The best free drawing software is just as powerful as some of the more expensive offerings.
Computing

You don't have to spend a fortune on a PC. These are the best laptops under $300

Buying a laptop needn't mean spending a fortune. If you're just looking to browse the internet, answer emails, and watch Netflix, you can pick up a great laptop at a great price. These are the best laptops under $300.
Computing

Dodge the biggest laptop-buying mistakes with these handy tips

Buying a new laptop is exciting, but you need to watch your footing. There are a number of pitfalls you need to avoid and we're here to help. Check out these top-10 laptop buying mistakes and how to avoid them.
Computing

Keep your laptop battery in tip-top condition with these handy tips

Learn how to care for your laptop's battery, how it works, and what you can do to make sure yours last for years and retains its charge. Check out our handy guide for valuable tips, no matter what type of laptop you have.
Computing

Is it worth spending more for the Surface Pro, or is the Surface Go good enough?

The Surface Go vs. Surface Pro — which is better? While the higher price tag of one might make you think it's an easy choice, a deeper dive into what each offers makes it a closer race than you might assume.
Computing

Apple’s 4K 21.5-inch iMac is now $200 off if you pre-order it

Apple's new iMacs are now available and if you pre-order one from B&H you can get the midrange version for $200. That's a near 20-percent saving on one of the most competitive configurations.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s latest breakthrough could make DNA-based data centers possible

Could tomorrow's data centers possibly store information in the form of synthetic DNA? Researchers from Microsoft have successfully encoded the word "hello" into DNA and then back again.