• 12.15.15

Fiorina Claims Feds Haven’t Asked Silicon Valley For Encryption Help … But They Have

Contrary to what the Republican candidate claimed in the debate, the FBI has approached tech companies for help circumventing encryption.

Fiorina Claims Feds Haven’t Asked Silicon Valley For Encryption Help … But They Have
[Photo: Flickr user Patrick Denker]

Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina claimed in Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate that the Obama Administration hasn’t asked big tech companies for help circumventing encryption in fighting terrorism–but the FBI and other federal agencies have done just that several times.


Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett Packard, said the private sector’s assistance is required to access terrorist communications and devise tools to understand what they find. Even in the case of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, in which investigators had some prior suspicions about the Tsarnaev brothers and had access to communication “metadata,” they still used “the wrong algorithm” and failed to uncover the plot, she said.

The comments echo statements Fiorina made earlier this week to the conservative website Breitbart News, saying the government needs the help of Silicon Valley to “work around” encryption, asserting that such security measures are needed to keep information safe.

FBI Director James Comey recently reiterated calls for big companies like Apple and Google to help officials decipher encrypted messages and stored data on cell phones and other devices.

Tech companies have effectively declined to do so, saying any government “back door” could be used to circumvent security measures and steal user data.

“Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a ‘back door’ in any of our products or services,” the company says. “We have also never allowed any government access to our servers. And we never will.”

About the author

Steven Melendez is an independent journalist living in New Orleans.