Privacy and protection: Obama finds a flaw in Big Data

Published February 18, 2015   |   

In the backdrop of ongoing tussle between the administration against tech giants like Apple and Google over people’s data privacy, President Barack Obama gave a one-on-one interview with Re/code on a wide range of technology topics and talked about the uneasy balance between privacy and protection.
While the companies have pushed Washington to end the bulk collection of private data because of customer privacy concerns, the NSA has said the practice is necessary to fighting terrorism.
Kara Swisher asked the president whether American citizens should be entitled to control their data, just as the president controls his own private conversations through encrypted email. “You have encrypted email, shouldn’t everybody have encrypted email, or have their protections?” she asked.
Obama replied that he’s “a strong believer in strong encryption …. I lean probably further on side of strong encryption than some in law enforcement.” But the issue, Obama said, is the hypothetical. What if the FBI has a good case against someone involved in a terrorist plot and wants to know who that person was communicating with? Traditionally, they could get a court order for a wire tap. Today, a company might tell the FBI they can’t technically comply.