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Should Tech Companies Help Law Enforcement Break Into Your Devices?

While the battle between the FBI and Apple over whether the government could force the tech giant to hack into one of its phones in the service of an investigation made big headlines, the tug-of-war between technology companies and the government over encryption wages every day with local cops complaining incessantly about technology they don’t like. Going forward, should the government force technology companies to build exploits to device encryption to allow law enforcement to crack it — or at least to allow the government to force the manufacturer to crack it for them?

After all, this is data that might otherwise be attainable by warrant. On the other hand, what mischief — and more crime — is created when hackers know there are exploits out there.

Arguing that tech companies’ promise of encryption should yield to law enforcement is Steptoe & Johnson partner and former Assistant Homeland Security Secretary Stewart Baker and lightning rod legal celebrity Professor John Yoo of Berkeley, who think tech companies should assist law enforcement in divulging digital secrets. Meanwhile former Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff and Professor Catherine Crump of Berkeley’s Law, Technology, and Public Policy Clinic will argue against them.