In response to the FBI’s public relations blitz against encryption technology and recent proposals in Congress to undermine the security of digital information, the ACLU of Massachusetts today sent a letter to the Massachusetts Congressional delegation calling on them to reject any legislation that would weaken America’s digital security.
Signed by nearly two-dozen Massachusetts technology leaders, the letter reminds congress that for our state, ensuring companies and individuals can produce and use strong encryption is not only a civil liberties matter, but also an economic necessity:
Massachusetts enjoys the highest per capita high tech workforce nationwide. The industry group CompTIA estimates that one in ten Bay State workers is employed in the technology sector. These 286,000 tech jobs offer an average annual wage of $121,000. The Massachusetts Technology Leadership Council, in turn, finds that tech industry business and employee spending sustains another 400,000 workers statewide, in fields ranging from low-wage restaurant work to high-priced consultancies.
If U.S.-based corporations are forced to comply with government demands to hack their own users, business customers will look to other nations for secure products. The economic impact of the resulting hit to the United States technology industry would be profound, especially for the high-tech Massachusetts economy.
Strong digital security tools protect our nation’s information economy. Digital security enables American technology companies to flourish in the global marketplace. Digital security protects American consumers, businesses, and jobs.
For these reasons, we respectfully ask that you reject proposals to weaken America’s digital security.
Signatories include academics Hal Abelson, Ron Rivest, Bruce Schneier, Latanya Sweeney, and Ethan Zuckerman; business leaders Colin Angle, Chris Schoettle, Joshua Boger, Paul Sagan, and Andy Yen; and MIT Media Lab director Joi Ito and ACLU of Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose.
“Strong encryption and privacy are social and economic necessities,” said ProtonMail Co-Founder Dr. Andy Yen. “Not only does this technology protect activists and dissidents, it is also key to securing the world’s digital infrastructure.”
ACLU of Massachusetts executive director Carol Rose said the ACLU is “proud to stand with leaders in the Massachusetts technology community to call on our elected representatives in Washington to follow facts, and not fear, when shaping public policy that will profoundly shape our nation’s future.”
Read the full letter.